Reported attacks on Syrian chemicals worries OPCW

Reported attacks on Syrian chemicals worries OPCW
Thu Jan 16, 2014 18:49:09

The head of the world's chemical weapons watchdog agency has voiced concerns about reports by the Syrian government of attacks on two of its chemical facilities.

"The Syrian authorities have reported attacks on two sites," Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said Thursday during a visit to Italy’s capital Rome.

"It would be worrying if there are attempts to capture those chemicals. I don't think it's in the interests of anyone," he further added, as Italy prepares to declare the port to which the Syrian chemicals will be taken.

Uzumcu also noted that the removal and destruction of the most dangerous agents in Syria's chemical weapons arsenal may not be completed until the end of June.

Under the UN resolution on the agreement, Syria's chemical weapons arsenal is to be destroyed by mid-2014.

But the plan to destroy Syria's 1,290-ton declared chemical weapons arsenal has been delayed by the fighting raging across the country.
The OPCW chief also said there had been a delay over requests from the Syrian government for extra security equipment for the chemicals convoys, including armored vehicles.

Uzumcu further explained to reporters that the transfer of Syrian chemical agents from a Danish ship onto a US vessel in an as-yet-unnamed Italian port was now expected to take place "by the end of January or early February."

The transit of some 500 tons of Syria's deadliest chemicals including mustard gas and the ingredients for the nerve agents sarin and VX, which could take up to 48 hours, has already sparked local concern in Italy.

"Every possible measure is being taken for a safe trans-loading. The risks are very obvious and we have taken every measure to minimize these risks," he said.

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