Syrian chemical weapons transfer initiated

United Nations, Jan 8: A first shipment of chemical materials was moved from Syria Tuesday, which initiated the process of transferring chemical weapons from the country to locations outside its territory for destruction, said the joint mission overseeing the disarmament.

“Further progress has been made towards the removal and elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme,” Xinhua quoted Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations, as saying.

“A first quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites to the port of Lattakia for verification and was then loaded onto a Danish commercial vessel today (Tuesday),” Kaag said in the statement.

He added that the vessel has been accompanied by naval escorts provided by Denmark and Norway, as well as Syria.

“This movement initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic to locations outside its territory for destruction,” said the statement.

The UN Security Council resolution 2118, unanimously adopted Sep 27, decided to rid the war-torn Syria of chemical weapons. Under the resolution, the OPCW is mandated to oversee the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.

The OPCW-UN Joint Mission was formally established Oct 16 to achieve the timely removal in the safest and most secure manner possible. According to OPCW, the deadline for elimination is June 30, 2014.

The chemical materials in Syria were set to be shipped outside the country via its coastal city of Latakia to be destroyed on a ship in the sea.

IANS