MOSCOW, April 16, /ITAR-TASS/. More than 72 percent of Syrian chemicals have been destroyed or removed, Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said on Wednesday, April 16.
“With more movements today over 72 percent of CW [chemical weapon] material now removed and destroyed,” Kaag said on Twitter.
The destruction of chemical weapons in Syria was discussed, among other topics, during OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu’s meetings and talks in Moscow on April 14.
During these meetings recent developments in the OPCW-U.N. Joint mission in Syria and issues related to the maritime operation to remove and destroy Syria’s chemicals outside of the country were discussed, as well as other issues related to cooperation between the Russian Federation and OPCW.
The OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission has confirmed that the Syrian government has delivered the 13th and 14th consignments of chemicals to Latakia, both of which were removed from the port. The two consignments were delivered to Latakia on April 10 and April 13, respectively, and immediately boarded onto cargo ships.
Noting the latest consignments, Director-General Uzumcu said the removal of chemicals had fallen behind the revised schedule submitted to the OPCW by Syria under which the government committed to completing the process by April 27, and that there is no margin for any further delays.
“Both the frequency and volumes of deliveries have to increase significantly to restore alignment of actual movements against the projected time frame,” the Director-General said. “I stress this point because only 11 weeks remain before the expiry of the deadline for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme on June 30, 2014.”
According to the OPCW, no chemical weapons will be left in Syria by April 27. They will be destroyed by Britain, Germany, the United States, and Finland.
When all of the Syrian chemicals from all storage sites have been loaded aboard the Danish and Norwegian cargo ships, they will be transported to various locations for destruction under the verification of OPCW inspectors.
The majority of Priority 1 chemicals will be neutralised at sea aboard the U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray, while a smaller amount will be neutralised at a land-based facility in Ellesmere Port, UK. The Priority 2 chemicals will be destroyed at commercial facilities in the U.S. and Finland. A facility in Germany will dispose of part of the effluent from the Cape Ray operations, the OPCW said.
The Syrian Government informed the Joint Mission of a revised plan for removing all relevant chemicals from its territory by April 27. The amended plan was considered by the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague in early March 7. Western countries were concerned that the delays would not allow Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons by June 30, 2014 as was initially planned and it will need a delay of several months.
The removal of the most critical material for destruction began on January 7, 2014, a week after the deadline for its completion set by an agreement brokered by Russia and the United States under which Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.
On November 15, 2013, the OPCW Executive Council (EC) approved a detailed plan of destruction to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In the plan, Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner”, and no later than June 30, 2014.
Under Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) and decisions of the OPCW Executive Council, Syria’s entire chemical weapons programme is to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.
Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons under an agreement brokered last year by Russia and the United States.