Syrian chemical weapons likely to be destroyed abroad - RussiaAn inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at work at an undisclosed location in Syria. Chemical inspectors have checked 14 out of more than 20 sites in Syria, the world's chemical weapons watchdog said October 18, 2013.(AFP Photo / Syrian TV)
The majority of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal will likely be taken abroad for destruction, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said after talks with the special coordinator of the UN-OPCW mission in Syria.
“There are many arguments in favor of taking the vast majority of the poisonous substances outside of the country’s borders,” Sergey Ryabkov said.
Ryabkov met with Sigrid Kaag, who leads the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, to discuss “technological and legal aspects” of the project.
Kaag did not confirm media reports that Albania will be the location where Syria’s arsenal will be destroyed, stating that details of the program are still being discussed.
“At the moment, representatives of Russia, the United States and the Syrian leadership are engaged in negotiations that are to produce a detailed plan of the process to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria,” he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying that the dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons has moved into its second “key” stage.
“During [the second phase] we will have to gather main stockpiles of precursor chemicals in a coastal region of Syria and take them for subsequent elimination in a third country that would agree to dispose of them under the control of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the Syrian authorities,” the statement said.
Earlier on Thursday, OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan told RT that the Syrian government has reached a milestone by meeting its “extremely important” November 1 deadline for the destruction of its listed chemical weapons and mixing and filling facilities.
Syrian authorities “functionally destroyed the critical equipment which is needed to run their chemical weapons production facilities. All of that has now been rendered inoperable,” Luhan told RT .
“This was an extremely important deadline and a milestone that we’ve reached,” he added.
OPCW experts have so far visited 21 out of 23 chemical weapons sites across Syria. The two remaining facilities are currently too dangerous to visit due to military action between government forces and Islamist rebels.
According to the watchdog, chemical equipment from the unvisited facilities was moved to sites where the inspections were performed.
The next step in the disarmament process is the elimination of Assad’s chemical stockpile, which must be completed by June 30, 2014.
Assad’s government agreed to give up its chemical arsenals as part of the US-Russia brokered deal which prevented Washington from using military force against Syria.