OPCW: Syrian Chemical Weapons Removal to Miss Deadline
The operation to destroy Syria's chemical weapons program will miss its December 31 deadline, Mail & Guardian reported Saturday.
Franz Krawinkler, head of logistics for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), confirmed to Austrian state television Saturday that bad weather has delayed the transport of crucial supplies for the mission.
The shifting front lines in Syria are another factor in the delay. Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov noted Friday to RIA that the deadline would be missed because the toxins that can be used to make nerve agents sarin gas, VX gas and others still faced a potentially hazardous trip to Latakia.
The news follows reports that rebel forces attacked locations in central Syria where the chemical weapons slated for destruction were being housed earlier this month.
Missed deadlines have been common during the OPCW operation. In October, OPCW inspectors admitted that 2 out of 23 weapons sites had not been inspected due to security concerns, missing the first stage of the destruction set to be done by November 1.
The news also confirms remarks from OPCW director Ahmet Uzumcu, who admitted to AFP earlier this month that meeting the deadline "may not be possible, perhaps because of the technical issues that we have encountered."
The deadline for all of the chemical weapons to be destroyed has been set for June 2014. The international operation is a joint Russian-U.S. Syrian chemical plan that was endorsed by the UN Security Council in September.
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 that left hundreds dead.
A recent report by UN inspectors revealed that chemical weapons have been used at least five times during the Syrian conflict and in some cases children and civilians have been slaughtered. While the report did not attribute blame for the attacks, most Western powers believe Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces are responsible for the toxins.