OPCW extends deadline on Syria chemical arms removal

Volatile security conditions and inclement weather prevent OPCW from finishing task on time; will meet Jan. 8 to discuss progress.

OPCW 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
OPCW 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will not meet its deadline of December 31 for the removal of Bashar Assad’s deadliest chemical agents from Syria.
The organization cited multiple factors for the delay, “not least the continuing volatility in overall security conditions.”
The OPCW also listed “inclement weather” as a contributing factor.
“Due to technical difficulties, there will be a limited delay in the transport of the first tranche of chemical agents from the Syrian Arab Republic,” the spokesman for the secretary-general on the OPCW-UN Joint Mission announced on Saturday.
The OPCW have classified chemical agents into two categories, slating the most hazardous materials for swift destruction at sea.
“The international effort to eliminate the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic continues to make effective progress, as demonstrated by the steady achievements in meeting all previous milestones [in] the past three months,” the statement read.
The executive council of the OPCW will meet on January 8 to discuss progress of the project. In an earlier statement, the organization reminded Assad that the “safe packaging, transport and removal” of chemical arms is ultimately the responsibility of his government.
After brokering the original deal that forced Syria to abandon its chemical arsenal, Russia and the United States agreed last month to aid in the removal process.
In 2013, the OPCW won the Nobel Peace Prize as it prepared to rid Syria of its chemical weapons in September.
Before signing the Chemical Weapons Convention in August, Syria had the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the region and one of the largest in the world.