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 »
Bernie Sanders Seeks to Unite the Party
7 hours ago

Instead of his usual stump speech, Bernie Sanders tonight threw his support behind Hillary Clinton, providing a clear contrast between Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump on the many issues he used to discuss in his campaign stump speeches. Sanders spoke glowingly about the presumptive Democratic nominee, lauding her work as first lady and as a strong advocate for women and the poor. “We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor,” he said. “Hillary Clinton will make a great president, and I am proud to stand with her tonight."

Elizabeth Warren Goes After Donald Trump
7 hours ago

In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.

Michelle Obama: “I Trust” Hillary Clinton
8 hours ago

"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.

Sarah Silverman to Bernie or Bust: “You’re Being Ridiculous”
9 hours ago

Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.

DNC Formally Apologizes to Bernie Sanders
13 hours ago

The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."