Albania Rejects Request to Host Syrian Chemical-Arms Destruction

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Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 15, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Al­bania an­nounced on Fri­day it would not al­low Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons to be des­troyed on its soil, deal­ing a set­back to the dis­arm­a­ment ef­fort the same day an in­ter­na­tion­al body weighed a de­struc­tion plan for the mu­ni­tions, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

Al­bani­an Prime Min­is­ter Edi Rama an­nounced in a tele­vised ad­dress that he denied the U.S. re­quest to host de­struc­tion of the Syr­i­an arms, which angry pro­test­ers de­cried in re­cent days in his coun­try’s cap­it­al.

“We lack the ne­ces­sary ca­pa­cit­ies to get in­volved in this op­er­a­tion,” said Rama, who as­sumed his post two months ago.

The Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons’ Ex­ec­ut­ive Coun­cil had planned to ap­prove on Fri­day a chem­ic­al-weapons de­struc­tion plan craf­ted by Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s re­gime. However, the 41-mem­ber coun­cil ad­journed its meet­ing in The Hag­ue dur­ing the day as it waited to hear wheth­er Al­bani­an would host the de­struc­tion work. As of press time, the chem­ic­al-weapons coun­cil still was ex­pec­ted to make a de­cision later in the day.

An OP­CW source told Re­u­ters on Fri­day that there “will be no host coun­try in the de­cision this af­ter­noon.”

As­sad agreed in Septem­ber to elim­in­ate his roughly 1,300 met­ric tons of sar­in nerve agent and mus­tard gas fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tion­al con­dem­na­tion of an Aug. 21 chem­ic­al-arms at­tack on cit­izens dur­ing the na­tion’s bloody civil war.

The OP­CW Ex­ec­ut­ive Coun­cil re­portedly was re­view­ing a draft de­struc­tion plan on Fri­day that calls for most chem­ic­al ma­ter­i­als to be ex­trac­ted from Syr­ia by the end of the year and des­troyed else­where.

Al­bania joins Nor­way in deny­ing re­quests to be­come the site of de­struc­tion activ­it­ies. Bel­gi­um and France also have been cited as pos­sible hosts.

Na­tions are help­ing the OP­CW-U.N. chem­ic­al-weapons ef­fort in var­ied ways. Nor­way on Thursday said it would send troops and ships to Syr­ia, des­pite re­ject­ing the role of host for the chem­ic­al stocks. Den­mark and Rus­sia have con­sidered of­fer­ing sim­il­ar as­sist­ance. Coun­tries in­clud­ing the United States, Canada, Ger­many, the Neth­er­lands and Switzer­land also have con­trib­uted money for the dis­arm­a­ment work, which As­sad said could cost $1 bil­lion.

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