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OPCW announces removal of last shipment of chemicals from Syria

June 23, 2014, 18:22 UTC+3 THE HAGUE
Most of the chemicals would be destroyed within the next 60 days, Secretary-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says
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© EPA/EVERT-JAN DANIELS

THE HAGUE, June 23. /ITAR-TASS/. The last shipment of chemical weapons has been removed from Syria, Ahmet Uzumcu, Secretary-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said on Monday, June 23.

He described this as “a major landmark” in the process of removing chemical weapons from Syria. “The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura. The ship made its last call at the port of Latakia in what has been a long and patient campaign in support of this international endeavour,” Uzumcu said.

He said most of the chemicals would be destroyed within the next 60 days.

Uzumcu said that “the next stage in this mission is the completion of the maritime operations to deliver the chemicals for destruction at the assigned facility on board the US vessel Cape Ray and at commercial facilities in Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.”

He stressed that the mission had seen over 30 countries and European Union committing significant financial and in-kind assistance. This cooperation covered key logistical and transportation requirements, including a complex maritime operation. “The collaboration with Member States relating to destruction activities and the provision of equipment and industrial facilities for this purpose is unprecedented in the history of disarmament,” the Secretary-General said.

Referring earlier to progress in technical talks on the destruction of 12 chemical weapons production facilities (CWPF), he noted that Syria has agreed to the methodology for destroying hangars that were used as CWPFs. However, further work is needed regarding the underground structures.

The first ship with Syrian chemicals left the country on June 8. The second ship, Ark Futura, was waiting nearby to start loading the remaining 8% of the arsenal intended for removal.

Work to remove and destroy Syrian chemical weapons has been on since late last year. Chemical weapons 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 US 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 US and Finland. A facility in Germany will dispose of part of the effluent from the Cape Ray operations, the OPCW said.

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.

 

OPCW plan

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 program 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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