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.
    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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora