BEIRUT

Middle East

Envoy: Last dangerous chemicals must leave Syria

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Miqdad (L) meets members of a fact-finding mission from Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Organization (OPCW), who visited Kafr Zeta village in Hama countryside on Tuesday to inspect the use of chlorine gas, in Damascus May 28, 2014, in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA. (REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters)

UNITED NATIONS: The head of the mission charged with destroying Syria’s chemical weapons called on President Bashar Assad and countries with influence on the warring parties Wednesday to ensure the immediate removal of containers of dangerous chemicals from the country.

Sigrid Kaag told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council that a number of nations confirmed that Syria’s security concerns about transporting the final 7.2 percent of Syria’s declared chemical stockpile to the port of Latakia “are legitimate.”

She said the joint U.N.-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission that she heads had other information that security conditions in the area not far from Damascus “have been very volatile.”

But she said getting the last containers onto Danish and Norwegian ships “is very, very critical,” and she called for help from key nations. She said she would return to Damascus in a few days to press for immediate removal of the chemicals from “harm’s way.”

Kaag reiterated that Syria would not meet the June 30 deadline to completely destroy its chemical weapons.

She stressed that security issues on roads from the site where the last containers had been prepared for shipment “doesn’t mean that additional delays can be incurred.”

Kaag pointed to “the tremendous cost” for the countries that have supplied the vessels to carry the containers and the ships escorting them, as well as the United States, which is providing a specially equipped ship with two machines that will render the chemicals inert. That process takes approximately 60 days.

Syrian authorities left the removal of chemicals from the contested site for a later time, knowing it would need additional security and possibly military operations, though officials told the government “that if you leave it for last there is a higher risk,” Kaag said.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters that a number of Security Council members noted that “these security concerns were not there at a time earlier when they should have been moved at a much earlier stage.”

Kaag said Syria had indicated that when conditions permit, removal would take place immediately.

The international effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons was sparked by an attack near Damascus last Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 05, 2014, on page 8.

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

The head of the mission charged with destroying Syria's chemical weapons called on President Bashar Assad and countries with influence on the warring parties Wednesday to ensure the immediate removal of containers of dangerous chemicals from the country.

She said getting the last containers onto Danish and Norwegian ships "is very, very critical," and she called for help from key nations. She said she would return to Damascus in a few days to press for immediate removal of the chemicals from "harm's way".

Kaag reiterated that Syria would not meet the June 30 deadline to completely destroy its chemical weapons.

Kaag said Syria had indicated that when conditions permit, removal would take place immediately.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here