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Syria chemical weapons destruction may start before all are moved out

May 06, 2014, 9:08 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS

The operation to destroy chemical weapons is to be completed before June 30

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UNITED NATIONS, May 06. /ITAR-TASS/. In conditions when gunmen block access to one of the storage sites in Syria, the destruction of chemical weapons moved out of the country may begin already now, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for security and disarmament told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

“This idea is being voiced,” Mikhail Ulyanov said without specifying who it had come from. He said last week Russia and the United States took part in consultations at the UN headquarters on the course of the operation on Syria’s chemical disarmament.

The operation to destroy chemical weapons is to be completed before June 30. Chemicals will be neutralized at sea, on board the M/V Cape Ray, the specially adapted US cargo ship. On April 24, UN’s special mission and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said 92.5% of chemical weapons had been removed from Syria. They are moved to the port city of Latakia from different storage sites around the country to be shipped out.

Last week, Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari told ITAR-TASS that all chemical weapons had been destroyed or moved out of the country with the exception of those that are stored at a facility near Damascus surrounded by gunmen. The diplomat said the Syrian authorities together with the UN-OPCW mission were working towards getting there as soon as possible.

He warned against possible claims to Damascus for missing the withdrawal deadline of April 27. “Syrians are moving the weapons out in conditions of combat operations, a fierce civil war with a touch of foreign terrorist interference, that is why it is simply silly to lay any challenge to them,” the diplomat said. “We must proceed from real live and not some dates,” he added.

Ulyanov leads the Russian delegation to a third session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The session opened at the UN headquarters on April 28 and will run until May 9.

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