Insiders: Assad Will Not Demolish Chemical Installations by Deadline

Global Security Newswire Staff
March 7, 2014, 7:42 a.m.

In­ter­na­tion­al of­fi­cials said Syr­ia ap­pears poised to miss a March 15 tar­get date for elim­in­at­ing a dozen chem­ic­al-arms man­u­fac­tur­ing sites, Re­u­ters re­ports.

States parties to an in­ter­na­tion­al chem­ic­al-weapons ban called last year for Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment to fin­ish elim­in­at­ing the 12 sites by the middle of this month. That goal is now out of reach, ac­cord­ing to Thursday com­ments from sources at the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons.

“That [dead­line] will def­in­itely be missed,” one in­sider told the wire ser­vice. “None of them have been des­troyed at the mo­ment.”

The source de­scribed sev­en of the fa­cil­it­ies as “hardened” air­plane stor­age sites, and five of the loc­a­tions as un­der­ground in­stall­a­tions. At a meet­ing of the 41-na­tion OP­CW Ex­ec­ut­ive Coun­cil this week, mul­tiple West­ern en­voys re­jec­ted a Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment pro­pos­al to close off the sites with ce­ment rather than fully de­mol­ish them, ac­cord­ing to agency in­siders.

“The phys­ic­al de­struc­tion of CW pro­duc­tion fa­cil­it­ies is a fun­da­ment­al re­quire­ment of the [Chem­ic­al Weapons] Con­ven­tion, and a prudent pro­tec­tion against the re­tain­ment or re­start of a chem­ic­al-weapons pro­gram,” U.S. Am­bas­sad­or Robert Miku­lak said to the body in pre­pared re­marks.

As­sad re­gime’s pledged to re­lin­quish its chem­ic­al-war­fare stock­pile and re­lated as­sets when it faced ac­cus­a­tions of re­leas­ing sar­in nerve agent over an op­pos­i­tion-held sub­urb of Dam­as­cus, al­legedly killing more than 1,400 people in Au­gust.

“Des­troyed means des­troyed,” a source told Re­u­ters. “Why should a coun­try that used chem­ic­al weapons against its own people be giv­en spe­cial priv­ileges?”

As­sad’s gov­ern­ment nev­er ac­cep­ted blame for the Aug. 21 strike, and Rus­sia has backed the deni­als by its part­ner in Dam­as­cus.

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