Under a deal reached in October between Russia and the United
States, which helped avert a U.S.-led missile strike against the
regime of President Bashar Al-Assad, Syria agreed to give up its
entire stockpile of chemical weapons by February 5.
Russia said on Tuesday its ally Damascus would ship more chemicals
soon, but Western diplomats said they saw no indications that
further shipments were pending.
Syria has said it would submit a handover timetable to the
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which
won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, but gave no indication of when
that would happen.
There have been no additional shipments since January 27 and the
latest deadline was missed, said OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan. "It's
a status quo until we get this plan."
Syria had already missed a December 31 deadline to relinquish the
most poisonous chemical agents, including mustard gas and sarin
So far, Syria has transported slightly more than four percent of the
1,300 metric tons it reported to the OPCW. The two small shipments
of chemicals are being stored on a Danish vessel in the
Under the US-Russian agreement, prompted by a sarin gas attack near
Damascus that killed hundreds of civilians, Syria has until June 30,
or another five months, to completely eliminate its chemical weapons
Washington blames the poison attacks on the Al-Assad regime and
threatened military retaliation.
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Damascus has blamed the delay on security problems and the threat of
attacks by rebels on road transports to the northern port of
Latakia. It has requested additional armor and communications
But the United States and the United Nations, which is jointly
overseeing the destruction program with the OPCW, said last week
Syria has all the equipment it needs to carry out the operation and
should proceed as quickly as possible.
The next major deadline is March 31, by when the most toxic
substances are supposed to be destroyed outside Syria, on a special
U.S. cargo vessel, the MV Cape Ray.
On Thursday, the head of the joint mission, Sigrid Kaag, will brief
the United Nations about the operation in New York.
(Editing by Anna Willard)
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