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Deadline to Remove Syria's Chemical Weapons May Pass

Tuesday's deadline to move most of Syria's chemical weapons out of the country likely will go unmet.

The United Nations and an international chemical weapons monitoring group said unstable security, logistical problems and bad weather has made getting the toxins to the port of Latakia difficult.

For now, the delay is not raising concern in Washington, which characterized the deadline as ambitious. The State Department said it was satisfied to see "forward progress."

The New York Times, citing sources with the mission to remove the weapons, reported on Sunday that Syria apparently has not begun to move weapons toward the port staging areas.

The Syrian government agreed to allow the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons access to its chemical weapons arsenal for destruction at sea.



On November 15, the OPCW outlined a plan to have many of the most deadly weapons moved out by December 31. The plan is to ensure that Syria destroys all its chemical weapons in the arsenal by the middle of 2014.

Mission officials and analysts told VOA that the initial phase of the plan involves Syria packaging and transporting the weapons overland across Syria to Latakia, its major port on the Mediterranean Sea.

Danish and Norwegian cargo ships will transport the shipment from the port to a yet-to-be designated Italian destination.

There the weapons will be loaded onto the U.S. Navy vessel Cape Ray, which has been outfitted with equipment to neutralize the chemicals. The destruction is then scheduled to take place at sea.

Russia is providing armored trucks, water tanks and other logistical supplies for the land operation in Syria. Moscow also has said it will provide security for the operation at Latakia port and in Syrian territorial waters.

China will be part of the initial military escort to Italy, and also will provide surveillance cameras and 10 ambulances to the operation.

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