Destruction Deadline for Syria’s Deadliest Chemicals May Be Missed

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
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 »
Lieberman Withdraws from Consideration for FBI Job
3 days ago
Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay Up
4 days ago
Russians Discussed Influencing Trump Through Aides
4 days ago

"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Ethics Cops Clear Mueller to Work on Trump Case
5 days ago

"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."

Senate Intel to Subpoena Two of Flynn’s Businesses
5 days ago

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.