Norway’s top diplomat on Wednesday said his country is “very seriously” reviewing calls to host the elimination of chemical-arms ingredients from war-torn Syria, but suggested legal and technical hurdles could complicate possible assistance, Reuters reported.
Norway lacks experience in destroying such materials, and domestic laws would require other European countries to take final custody of by-products from the process, Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende told reporters. He added it could prove difficult to prevent water from freezing in any destruction effort hosted by the Nordic country.
The United Nations reportedly asked Norway to accept as much as 50 percent of Syria’s chemical-warfare stockpile, which totals more than 1,000 tons and contains precursors for deadly nerve and blister agents. Syrian President Bashar Assad admitted possessing the materials and agreed to their elimination last month, weeks after a nerve-gas strike in rebel-held territory pushed the United States to the brink of potential military action against his regime.
The United States could provide chemical-destruction equipment to Norway, which is domestically stable and contains sparsely populated areas suited for destruction activities, according to Reuters. Oslo has not identified any potential domestic location for a possible destruction effort, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
The Norwegian broadcaster NRK cited an internal U.N. record naming seven other countries — Albania, Belgium and the five recognized nuclear powers — asked to support the chemical-disarmament process, Reuters reported.
Members of the 28-nation NATO alliance likely would “respond positively if the U.N. actually forwards a request,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, according to a Wedneseday report from Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
He added it is “premature” to determine whether countries would act alone or in cooperation to provide support.
Dozens of international personnel have been in Syria for weeks, confirming chemical-arms inventories provided by Assad’s regime and overseeing the destruction of empty munitions and mixing equipment. The United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are managing the closely watched disarmament mission, which aims to eliminate the Syrian government’s entire chemical arsenal by the first half of next year.
The disarmament crews as of Tuesday had traveled to 18 of 23 chemical-arms sites disclosed to date, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan told reporters on Wednesday. Damascus appeared set within one day to file a more complete “initial declaration” of its chemical-warfare inventory, as well as a “general plan of destruction,” Luhan added.
Meanwhile, U.N. envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi is slated on Nov. 5 to confer with Russian and U.S. delegates in support of a parallel effort to lay the groundwork for possible negotiations on ending Syria’s civil war, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The news agency cited an unnamed U.S. government insider who named the date.
What We're Following See More »
"The U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991...Putting the B-52s back on alert is just one of many decisions facing the Air Force as the U.S. military responds to a changing geopolitical environment that includes North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear arsenal, President Trump’s confrontational approach to Pyongyang, and Russia’s increasingly potent and active armed forces."
"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."
"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."
"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."