News Column

Syria Completes Destruction of Chemical Weapons Plants

October 31, 2013

EFE Ingles

Brussels, Oct 31 (EFE).- Syria has completed the process of destroying its chemical weapons plants, but the government must still draw up a plan for the elimination of all chemical arms, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, said Thursday.

"Syria has met the deadline" set by the OPCW's Executive Council to "complete as soon as possible and in any case not later than 1 November 2013, the destruction of chemical weapons production and mixing/filling equipment," the organization said in a statement.

The Executive Council, however, must still approve a plan for the complete destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles by Nov. 15.

The agreement reached with the Syrian government called for the country's chemical weapons facilities to be destroyed before the beginning of November and for all chemical arms to be eliminated in the first half of 2014, the next phase in the process.

"The Joint OPCW-UN Mission has inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns," the organization said.

The Syrian government told inspectors the two sites were abandoned, the OPCW said.

"The Joint Mission is now satisfied that it has verified - and seen destroyed - all of Syria's declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment," the OPCW said.

In September, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding that Syria go through with its pledge to eliminate its stocks of chemical weapons.

Russia and the United States hammered out a deal in Geneva in September under which Damascus was given an opportunity to destroy its chemical weapons program to avoid U.S. military action.

The United States, backed by France and Britain, blamed President Bashar al-Assad's forces for a nerve-gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians and threatened to carry out a "limited" strike in retaliation.

The Russia-U.S. deal averted that planned punitive action.

Russia and close ally Syria contend anti-government rebels carried out the chemical weapons attack as a provocation.

U.S. President Barack Obama had said last year that the use of chemical weapons by Damascus would constitute the crossing of a red line and trigger possible U.S. military intervention in Syria's internal conflict.

Syria's civil war has claimed some 100,000 lives since March 2011. EFE

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(c) 2013 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.

Original headline: Syria finishes destroying chemical weapons plants


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Source: (c) 2013 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.


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