Less than 5% of chemicals shipped out of Syria
30 January 2014, 10:34
The Hague - Less than five percent of the most dangerous chemicals in Syria's arsenal have left the country and Damascus will be pressured to move faster, sources close to the world's chemical watchdog said on Wednesday.
Just two shipments of around 16 metric tons each of so-called Category 1 chemicals have left Syria's port of Lattakia this month as part of an internationally-backed disarmament plan supervised by the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
That means less than 5% of the around 700 tons of chemicals that were supposed to have left Syria by 31 December last year have done so, putting the ambitious disarmament project weeks behind schedule.
The sources said an OPCW Executive Council meeting in The Hague on Thursday would try to put pressure on the Syrians and "remind them of their obligations", ahead of a 30 June deadline for the destruction of all of Syria's dangerous chemicals.
The UN Security Council last year backed a US-Russian deal to eliminate Syria's vast chemical arsenal as a way to avert US strikes threatened after a massive chemical attack near Damascus that Washington blamed on the regime.
Syria has declared around 700 tons of most-dangerous chemicals, 500 tons of less-dangerous precursor chemicals and around 122 tons of isopropanol in its arsenal.
Almost all the chemicals and precursors, except for isopropanol which is to be destroyed within the war-torn country, are supposed to be removed by 5 February.
"It's almost certain that deadline will not be met," a source close to the matter told AFP.
The around 120 tonnes of isopropanol must be destroyed by 1 March.