News / Middle East

Deadline on Syria Chemical Weapons Unlikely to Be Met

Deadline on Syria Chemical Weapons Unlikely to be Meti
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December 30, 2013
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.
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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 covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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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.

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