destruction of Syrian chemicals slides to end June
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[January 16, 2014]
ROME (Reuters) — The removal and
destruction of the most dangerous agents in Syria's chemical arsenal may
not be completed until the end of June because of logistical and
security problems, the head of the U.N. chemicals watchdog said on
The destruction of "primary" chemicals — mustard gas and the
components for making Sarin and VX — had originally been foreseen
completed by the end of March, but the civil war, bad weather and
bureaucracy have slowed it.
Nonetheless, Ahmet Uzumcu, head of the Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters in Rome he was
confident that all the chemicals could be destroyed by the end of
June, the deadline set for only the destruction the less dangerous
"I am still confident that we can meet this deadline of the end of
June ... We will do our best to meet this deadline," he said.
Uzumcu said that more than 16 tons of the total of 560 tons of
the "primary" chemicals had so far been shifted to a Danish vessel
in the Syrian port Latakia, conceding: "The quantity of the first
movement is not that high."
The ship is now waiting in international waters offshore for more
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Uzumcu is in Italy to address parliament about the transfer of the
primary agents at an Italian port from the Danish vessel to an
American one, where they will be destroyed at sea. The Calabrian
port of Gioia Tauro has been chosen for the chemical transfer, an
Italian government source said.
(Additional reporting by Eleanor Biles and Anotnella Cinelli,
writing by Steve Scherer and Philip Pullella; editing by Alison
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