News / Middle East

    Syria Submits New Plan for Chemical Arms Removal

    FILE - OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu attends press conference, Rome, Jan. 16, 2014.
    FILE - OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu attends press conference, Rome, Jan. 16, 2014.
    Reuters
    Syria has submitted a new 100-day plan for the removal of its chemical weapons after failing to meet a Feb. 5 deadline, but the international mission overseeing the operation believes it can be done in a shorter time frame, diplomats said on Friday.

    The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons executive committee met on Friday in The Hague to discuss the joint OPCW and U.N. mission amid growing international frustration at Syria falling behind on its commitments.

    Syria failed to meet an OPCW deadline of Feb. 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 U.N. 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.

    'Delays not insurmountable'

    U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane said on Thursday in New York that any new plan would need to be endorsed by the OPCW and the U.N. Security Council.

    The deal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons, brokered by the United States and Russia, was enshrined in a U.N. Security Council resolution in September.

    The resolution does not allow for automatic punitive action in the form of military strikes or sanctions if Syria does not comply. At Russia's insistence, the resolution makes clear a second council decision would be needed for that.

    Russia has made clear, however, it would not support the use of force against Assad's government, a close ally.

    So far Syria has relinquished only 11 percent of its declared 1,300 tons of chemical weapons, sources told Reuters last week. The worst chemicals, of which only 5 percent have been removed, are supposed to be destroyed by the end of March and the rest of the toxins by the end of June.

    Sigrid Kaag, head of the international mission, said earlier this month that she did not believe the Syrian government was intentionally delaying the removal of its arsenal, but that accelerated cooperation was vital to meet the mid-year deadline.

    "Intermediate milestones ideally should have been met, they have not been met, there are delays," she said. "Delays are not insurmountable. Delays have a reason, there's a rationale, there's a context."

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report last month that Syria has enough equipment to transfer the chemicals out of the country. Syria has blamed the delays on security concerns, a lack of equipment and the weather.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    February 21, 2014 5:18 PM
    What a disgusting disgrace bashar al assad is to the entire world. A criminal for one, responsible for killing more women and children than anyone in Syria. He has to "haggle" with the UN to allow aid in to help Syrians, this is a crime in itself, and inhumane. Bashar al assad should of settled with the people like happened just recently in the Ukraine. Instead he will go down as the biggest criminal in Syrian history books. Assad will in the end be facing the law whether he believes it or not. Murder is a serious crime in any country, and he should be punished by the Syrian laws.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora