Syria submits new 100-day plan for removal of chemical weapons
Syria has submitted a new 100-day plan for the removal of its chemical weapons after failing to meet a February 5 deadline, but the international mission overseeing the operation believes it can be done in a shorter time frame, diplomats said today.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons executive committee met on Friday in The Hague to discuss the joint OPCW and UN mission amid growing international frustration at Syria falling behind on its commitments.
Syria failed to meet an OPCW deadline of February 5 to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors out of the country. The final deadline under the OPCW plan is for all of Syria's declared chemical materials to be destroyed by June 30.
"The Syrian 100 day plan for removal of the chemicals, on which we have been briefed, is not adequate," Philip Hall, head of the British Foreign Office Counter Proliferation Department, told the OPCW, according to a copy of statement.
"We now urge the Syrian authorities to accept the proposals submitted by the Operational Planning Group that provide for removal in a much shorter time frame, without compromising on security," he said.
A senior UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the international mission believes the operation can be carried out before the end of March, adding that Syria's proposed end-May deadline would not leave enough time for the chemicals to be destroyed before the end of June.
The OPCW declined to comment on Syria's proposal.
The United States has sent the MV Cape Ray, a ship outfitted with special equipment to neutralize the worst of Syria's chemicals at sea, and says it will need 90 days to complete the destruction.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to destroy his chemical weapons following global outrage over a sarin gas attack in August, the world's deadliest chemical attack in 25 years. That attack sparked a U.S. threat of military strikes, which was averted by Assad's pledge to give up chemical arms.