Syria to Expedite Transport of Chemical Agent for Destruction

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Dec. 23, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

Syr­ia plans by Dec. 31 to ex­ped­ite the trans­port of 20 tons of mus­tard blister agent to a port city for re­mov­al and de­struc­tion, Re­u­ters re­ports.

Word of the ship­ment, which would in­clude oth­er war­fare chem­ic­als con­sidered among the coun­try’s “most crit­ic­al,” came days after in­ter­na­tion­al of­fi­cials said they could miss an end-of-year dead­line for re­mov­ing more of the most leth­al ma­ter­i­als held by Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad. The lead­er ad­mit­ted main­tain­ing a chem­ic­al ar­sen­al and agreed to its de­struc­tion in Septem­ber, after a nerve-gas at­tack weeks earli­er raised the pos­sib­il­ity of U.S. mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion against his re­gime.

As­sad’s forces earli­er this month seized a stra­tegic high­way ex­pec­ted to prove cru­cial in de­liv­er­ing his chem­ic­al stocks to the coastal city of Latakia. Upon reach­ing the port, the ma­ter­i­als are to be loaded onto for­eign ves­sels and taken away for de­struc­tion at sea.

Still, pro­tec­tion of the chem­ic­al ship­ments has re­mained a press­ing worry for dis­arm­a­ment per­son­nel. Last week, of­fi­cials at the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons blamed se­cur­ity con­cerns and oth­er lo­gist­ic­al hurdles for pos­sible delays in trans­port.

Rus­sia last week flew an ar­ray of chem­ic­al-trans­port and per­son­nel-sup­port equip­ment in­to Syr­ia, RIA Nov­osti re­por­ted on Monday.

Mo­scow “air­lif­ted 75 vehicles, in­clud­ing 50 Kamaz trucks and 25 Ur­al ar­mored vehicles to the air­port in Latakia on Dec. 18-20,” Rus­si­an De­fense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu said dur­ing a Monday meet­ing with Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

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