Norway to Support Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons
Norway said Thursday it would offer logistical support for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, despite refusing to carry out the operation on its soil as requested by the United States, reports AFP.
According to the news agency, which cited the Norwegian foreign ministry, Oslo will offer a civilian ship to help transport the weapons to an as yet undecided location, along with a military frigate to escort any future convoy.
Norway would also promise $15 million to the United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to carry out the operation, the ministry said.
Last month Norway said it could not accommodate an American request to help destroy Syria's chemical arsenal on its soil, saying the schedule was too tight and that it lacked the expertise required.
The joint Russian-U.S. Syrian chemical weapons disarmament plan was endorsed by the UN Security Council in September, when it adopted a resolution demanding the destruction of Syria's entire chemical arsenal, estimated at about 1,000 tons, by June 30 next year.
The resolution was a last-minute measure to prevent an American strike on Syria in retaliation for the regime's alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus suburb in August left hundreds dead.
OPCW teams have inspected 21 of Syria’s 23 chemical weapons site. The remaining two sites were deemed too dangerous to inspect due to fighting in the area, but equipment at those two sites has been moved elsewhere and inspected there.
Last week it was reported that the United States is looking at new classified intelligence indicating that the Syrian government may not fully declare its chemical weapons stockpile.
This would mean that Syria will still have a secret cache of chemical weapons even after the current agreed-upon destruction effort is carried out.
A former Syrian general has warned that President Bashar Al-Assad prepared for the chemical weapons crackdown in advance by hiding his weapons stockpile with the Lebanese group Hezbollah, a close ally.