Syria missed Wednesday’s deadline to turn over its chemical weapons, raising questions about the overall timeline to dismantle its chemical-weapons program.
But the news that Syria missed the Feb. 5 deadline isn’t a complete surprise; earlier reports had suggested the country would fail to meet the deadline, which is part of its agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The OPCW is overseeing the dismantling and destruction of Syria’s chemical-weapons program.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, said Tuesday that Syria would hand over all of its chemical weapons by March 1, but Western diplomats told Reuters there is little evidence that additional shipments are pending.
It’s not the first time Syria has missed a deadline. It didn’t turn over its most toxic chemicals by Dec. 31. So far, the country has turned over two shipments of chemical materials. The first left Syria in early January, the second last week.
The Syrian government has come under increasing criticism by U.S. and Western officials over slowing the destruction of its chemicals, with a senior U.S. official calling it a “credibility issue” for the government.
Officials from nearly a dozen countries also said last week that the Syrian government was to blame for the lack of serious progress in a recent round of talks in Geneva aimed at ending the three-year-old civil war.