THE HAGUE: Over 86 percent of chemicals have been removed from Syria up to date, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Tuesday, April 22.
“The chemicals were immediately boarded onto cargo ships upon arrival at the port and removed from the country,” the OPCW said.
This raises the overall portion of chemicals removed from Syria to 86.5 percent of the total, including 88.7 percent of all Priority 1 chemicals. Tuesday’s consignment was the 17th to date and the sixth consignment since 4 April, marking a significant acceleration in the pace of deliveries to Latakia this month.
OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu welcomed delivery of a further consignment of chemicals to the port of Latakia by the Syrian government.
“This latest consignment is encouraging,” the Director-General said. “We hope that the remaining two or three consignments are delivered quickly to permit destruction operations to get underway in time to meet the mid-year deadline for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons.”
The removal of chemicals from Syria will be completed within the next few days, Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the U.N./OPCW Joint Mission said on April 19.
Kaag said in a statement that further engagement was expected to sustain momentum and to complete removal operations during the next days.
This will contribute to meeting the deadlines set by the OPCW Executive Council, including the June 30, 2014 target date for completing the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical weapons program.
“The renewed pace in movements is positive and necessary to ensure progress towards a tight deadline,” Kaag said.
The statement also noted that Syria had further completed destruction of empty mustard gas containers, and made progress closing chemical weapons production and storage sites.
According to the OPCW, no chemical weapons will be left in Syria by April 27. They will be destroyed by Britain, Germany, the United States, and Finland.
When all of the Syrian chemicals from all storage sites have been loaded aboard the Danish and Norwegian cargo ships, they will be transported to various locations for destruction under the verification of OPCW inspectors.
The majority of Priority 1 chemicals will be neutralized at sea aboard the U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray, while a smaller amount will be neutralized at a land-based facility in Ellesmere Port, UK. The Priority 2 chemicals will be destroyed at commercial facilities in the U.S. and Finland. A facility in Germany will dispose of part of the effluent from the Cape Ray operations, the OPCW said.
The Syrian Government informed the Joint Mission of a revised plan for removing all relevant chemicals from its territory by April 27. The amended plan was considered by the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague in early March 7. Western countries were concerned that the delays would not allow Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons by June 30, 2014 as was initially planned and it will need a delay of several months.
The removal of the most critical material for destruction began on January 7, 2014, a week after the deadline for its completion set by an agreement brokered by Russia and the United States under which Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.
On November 15, 2013, the OPCW Executive Council (EC) approved a detailed plan of destruction to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In the plan, Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner”, and no later than June 30, 2014.
Under Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) and decisions of the OPCW Executive Council, Syria’s entire chemical weapons program is to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.
Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons under an agreement brokered last year by Russia and the United States. PNA