News / Middle East

    Deadline on Syria Chemical Weapons Unlikely to Be Met

    Deadline on Syria Chemical Weapons Unlikely to be Meti
    X
    December 30, 2013 9:54 PM
    International efforts to remove and destroy Syria's chemical weapons are hitting more roadblocks. December 31 for the most deadly chemicals to ship out of the country is fast approaching but many of those toxins have not yet been transported. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
    International efforts to remove and destroy Syria's chemical weapons are hitting more roadblocks.  December 31 for the most deadly chemicals to ship out of the country is fast approaching but many of those toxins have not yet been transported.

    Norwegian ships off the coast of Cyprus waiting for the call to head to Syria to pick up some of the world's most dangerous cargo, chemical weapons, like those blamed for the deadly attack on civilians in August.

    But the ongoing fighting has made getting the toxins to the port of Latakia difficult.  Sigrid Kaag is with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons:

    "Security, I think all parties agree, that this is of course a big concern, always, but it also impacts the safety of any convoy and the safety of any effort," said Kaag.

    The OPCW has been warning for days that transport of the most critical chemicals before December 31 is unlikely.

    For now, the delay is not raising concern in Washington, which characterized the deadline as ambitious. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf:

    "As long as we see foward progress that's what's most importnant here, and we have," said Harf.

    The agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad does not call for eliminating all chemical weapons until the end of June.  Yet some experts worry the longer it takes to eliminate Syria's arsenal, the greater the danger.

    Andrew Tabler is at the Washington Institute.

    "President Assad knows very well that his usefulness to the international community rapidly drops off as soon as he gives up those chemical weapons.  I think he has an interest in dragging this out," said Tabler.

    Just one more worry as the international community tries to end the bloodshed and, eventually, to rid Syria of chemical weapons.

    Jeff Seldin

    Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    December 31, 2013 12:34 AM
    Hey Dr. Preston, nobody denies the Israelis supreme mastery in intelligence matters and we do consult them regularly. In fact, we consult with them more than we consult with anybody else... trust me when i say that we read from the same page... there is no denying that they are our greatest asset in that murky world. The problem is that we can't implement their/our recommendations because we have - excuse me - we don't have a leadership... and that putting it most diplomatically!

    by: Dr. Preston L. from: USA
    December 30, 2013 10:41 AM
    what amazes me is why in the hell don't we listen to the Israelis on all matters pertaining to our security concerns in that Godless malevolent and diseased region. What is our problem...?? does Obama think he knows more than the Israelis do...?? just listen to them, everything they say comes true. I have been to four conferences in Washington DC on pressing US national security matters given by the Israelis - and i can say with absolute confidence that I knew all that is now unfolding in the Middle East four years ago!!!
    In Response

    by: Robin from: USA
    December 31, 2013 1:17 AM
    please don't be silly, Israel and the United States do absolutely share EVERYTHING. There is no daylight between us - PERIOD.
    In fact we are so intimate that the Brits are trying to sabotage our attachments with Israel in a really unattractive and acrimonious manner... and Obama hates the Brits.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora