Syria Set to Blow Chemical Weapons Deadline: UN

Movement of materials has yet to begin
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2013 6:59 AM CST
Syria Set to Blow Chemical Weapons Deadline: UN
Workers unload equipment from the MV Cape Ray in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. The ship will serve as the lynchpin for the destruction of Syria’s most toxic chemical weapons.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Syria's deadline for expelling key chemical weapons is tomorrow, but insiders say the country hasn't even started transporting the arms—and watchdogs expect a missed deadline, the New York Times reports. "At this stage, transportation of the most critical chemical material before 31 December is unlikely," says a joint statement from the UN and a chemical weapons oversight organization. The statement blames continuing security threats, logistical issues, and poor weather.

According to an agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Syria was supposed to rid itself of some 500 metric tons of hazardous chemicals by year's end. But delays in the program, which requires moving the chemicals through dangerous territory, were seen as possible from the start. "This was always going to be complex," says a US official. "We’re going to work with international partners to keep this on track and to keep up the pressure on the Assad regime to meet its commitments." (More Syria stories.)

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