News / Middle East

Ships Turn Back as Syria Chemical Removal Deadline Passes

A security forces member stands guard aboard the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad, in Limassol, Cyprus, Dec. 28, 2013.
A security forces member stands guard aboard the Norwegian frigate Helge Ingstad, in Limassol, Cyprus, Dec. 28, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Norwegian and Danish naval teams, on their way to remove chemical weapons from Syria, have turned back and are heading for Cyprus as an end-of-year deadline to remove most of the toxins from the war-torn country passed unmet.

A spokesman for the Norwegian armed forces told VOA that two container vessels, along with warship escorts, had been deployed to carry the toxic cargo for the destruction process under international supervision.

He said the ships were preparing for a refueling stop in the Cypriot port of Limassol ahead of a likely return to Syria "after the New Year."

An official from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said security concerns and bureaucracy are the primary reasons President Bashar al-Assad's government missed Tuesday's deadline.

Bad weather and a complex multinational procurement effort for equipment have also delayed the operation.

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 earlier 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 OPCW 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 and ensure that Syria destroys its entire chemical 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 over land across Syria to Latakia, its major port on the Mediterranean Sea.

The Danish and Norwegian cargo ships will then transport the material 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 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.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid