Syria Arms Removal Seen Delayed by Security, UN Says

Fighting, worsening security and bad weather have combined to delay the removal of chemical-weapons material from Syria by the mission tasked with carrying out an international accord struck with President Bashar al-Assad.

Removing the “most critical” material for destruction from Syria by Dec. 31, the first intermediate milestone set by the United Nations Security Council and the Executive Council of The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, probably will be missed, a statement today by the UN-OPCW mission said.

The joint mission said that while “important progress has been made” since Syria supplied an inventory of its chemical-weapons program three months ago, the nation “needs to intensify its efforts to ensure that its international obligations are met.”

Syria agreed to give up its chemical-weapons arsenal under a Russian initiative endorsed by the UN Security Council in September. The deal led the U.S. to withdraw threats of military action to punish Assad’s government for its alleged use of sarin gas near Damascus in August.

The OPCW’s Executive Council will meet on Jan. 8, it said in the statement. The plan supported by the Security Council calls for the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal by the end of June.

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