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Removal of chemicals from Syria to be completed within days - UN envoy

April 19, 2014, 23:28 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
Up to date, Syria has removed or destroyed in-country approximately 80 percent
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© EPA / PHILIPP SCHULZE

UNITED NATIONS, April 19, 22:02 /ITAR-TASS/. The removal of chemicals from Syria will be completed within the next few days, 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 Saturday, April 19.

Up to date, Syria has removed or destroyed in-country approximately 80 percent of its chemical weapons material, she said.

Kaag said in a statement that further engagement was expected to sustain momentum and to complete removal operations during the next days.

This will contribute to meeting the deadlines set by the OPCW Executive Council, including the June 30, 2014 target date for completing the destruction of Syria's entire chemical weapons programme.

“The renewed pace in movements is positive and necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline,” Kaag said.

The statement also noted that Syria had further completed destruction of empty mustard gas containers, and made progress closing chemical weapons production and storage sites.

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.

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