Nearly half of Syria’s chemical arms supply removed

n13-iconThe New York Times reports: Nearly half of Syria’s chemical stockpile for weapons use has now been removed from the war-ravaged country, the organization helping to oversee the elimination of the deadly arsenal reported on Wednesday.

The organization said in a statement that two shipments, including some of the most lethal chemicals from the stockpile, were delivered on March 14 and 17 to the Syrian port of Latakia, where they were transferred to cargo ships, making a total of 10 exported shipments so far.

“The latest movements increased the portion of chemicals that have now been removed from Syria for destruction outside the country to more than 45 percent,” said the statement, issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Hague-based group that is collaborating with the United Nations to ensure the arsenal’s destruction.

The statement was the first progress report on the Syrian government’s commitment to getting rid of the chemicals since the Syrians proposed a revised timetable for exporting them early this month. The timetable’s revision, which calls for the job to be finished by the end of April instead of Feb. 6 as originally planned, came after Syria missed deadlines in the destruction effort and was widely criticized internationally.

The statement also appeared to suggest that Russia and the United States were continuing to cooperate in pressuring Syria to comply with its pledges on chemical weapons, despite the crisis in Ukraine, which has deeply chilled relations between Moscow and Washington. [Continue reading…]

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