Multination effort will get rid of Syria's chemical weapons

  • Updated: December 18, 2013 - 8:53 PM

Helped by a flurry of offers from Russia and China as well as the United States and European countries, the international watchdog overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons unveiled details Wednesday of the multinational effort to get toxic agents out of the country but warned that the program faced delays.

Following an offer from the United States last month to destroy the chemical weapons at sea, the Syrian government will start transporting hundreds of tons of toxic agents to the port of Latakia around the end of the year, according to a plan approved by the executive council of the watchdog, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The removal starts a new phase in the program that Russia and the United States agreed on in September calling for complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities by June.

But the proposal that Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, presented to the executive council in The Hague warned that “technical factors have caused delays regarding some aspects of removal operations and may also affect future implementation activities.” The plan was approved late Tuesday and announced Wednesday.

Russia has undertaken the task of providing security for loading operations at Latakia’s port but has given no details of whether it intends to provide troops for that purpose, a European diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.

“The plan now has a lot more offers and a lot more parts to it, but we are realistic that there will be challenges,” the diplomat said.

The Syrian government will be responsible for packing, transporting and protecting the convoys carrying its chemical agents from 12 sites around the country to Latakia.

To mitigate the risks, Syria will use armored vehicles from Russia, thousands of special containers supplied by the United States, decontamination equipment and GPS locaters, the agency said.

China will provide 10 ambulances and surveillance cameras, and Finland has offered an emergency response team for dealing with chemical weapons in case of mishaps, the agency said.

new york times

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