Destruction Deadline for Syria’s Deadliest Chemicals May Be Missed

Global Security Newswire Staff
Jan. 17, 2014, 7:07 a.m.

In­ter­na­tion­al au­thor­it­ies may fall short of their aim to des­troy Syr­ia’s most haz­ard­ous war­fare chem­ic­als be­fore April, Re­u­ters re­ports.

Trans­port­ing the top-pri­or­ity sub­stances to the Syr­i­an coast from loc­a­tions across the war-di­vided coun­try has proven “quite chal­len­ging,” said Ah­met Üzüm­cü, dir­ect­or gen­er­al of the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons.

His agency wants Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s full chem­ic­al ar­sen­al des­troyed by the middle of this year. Dis­arm­a­ment per­son­nel have fo­cused first on re­mov­ing As­sad’s mus­tard blister agent and in­gredi­ents for sar­in and VX nerve agents. These are to be des­troyed on a spe­cially equipped U.S. ship.

When ques­tioned dir­ectly on wheth­er the agency would meet the goal of elim­in­at­ing the “pri­or­ity” sub­stances by March 31, Üzüm­cü noted that crews were un­able to re­move the ma­ter­i­als by the end of Decem­ber, as ini­tially planned.

“From my point of view what is im­port­ant is really the end [dead­line] of June 2014, so we will do our best to meet it,” he said.

In com­ments is­sued af­ter­ward, the chem­ic­al-dis­arm­a­ment watch­dog agency said Üzüm­cü “re­mains con­fid­ent the dead­line of 30 June 2014 for des­troy­ing Syr­ia’s en­tire ar­sen­al of chem­ic­al weapons can be met.”

Elab­or­at­ing on the op­er­a­tion’s dif­fi­culty, Üzüm­cü said “the biggest area of con­cern is clearly the safe trans­port­a­tion of those weapons, chem­ic­al sub­stances, from the sites in Syr­ia to the port of Latakia.”

One West­ern en­voy said a Dan­ish trans­port ves­sel has so far taken cus­tody of just one-twen­ti­eth of the sens­it­ive ma­ter­i­als. The pri­or­ity chem­ic­als even­tu­ally are slated to trans­fer onto a U.S. chem­ic­al-de­struc­tion ves­sel at Gioia Tauro, Italy.

Üzüm­cü said “some ad­di­tion­al meas­ures are be­ing taken right now to re­duce risks,” and noted he had met with Syr­i­an of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss pro­tec­tion of the war­fare chem­ic­als.

“We hope that we can move re­l­at­ively quickly in the com­ing weeks,” he said.

Mean­while, the United King­dom on Thursday an­nounced it would hire a French firm to burn a sep­ar­ate cache of less dan­ger­ous Syr­i­an chem­ic­al-arms in­gredi­ents at a fa­cil­ity near Liv­er­pool, Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

What We're Following See More »
Priebus Asks Party to Unite Behind Trump
5 hours ago
Sanders Upsets Clinton in Indiana
6 hours ago

Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.

Ted Cruz Bows Out, Effectively Ceding the Contest to Trump
7 hours ago

And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."

Trump Wins Indiana, All but Seals the Nomination
7 hours ago

The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.

What’s the Average Household Income of a Trump Voter?
12 hours ago

Seventy-two thousand dollars, according to FiveThirtyEight. That's higher than the national average, as well as the average Clinton or Sanders voter, but lower than the average Kasich voter.