Syria Misses First Deadline To Remove Chemical Weapons

The group overseeing the process says it will still meet mid-2014 deadline of removing entire arsenal

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The international effort to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons missed an end-of-year deadline to remove key components from the country Tuesday, and it’s unclear when the date will be met.

Norwegian and Danish ships were supposed to carry the most toxic chemicals out of Syria by Dec. 31, but instead pulled back to Cyprus as they waited for the material to be delivered to the Syrian port city of Latakia, AFP reports. The international coalition first acknowledged the possibility of a delay on Saturday, saying the civil war, bad weather and logistics had slowed the delivery of the chemical agents. A spokesperson for the Norwegian frigate told AFP the vessel had not been given a date to return to Syria.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons overseeing the process said the missed deadline was a temporary setback, and the weapons were still under international control. Christian Chartier, a spokesman for the OPCW, said the operation was still on track to meet its mid-2014 deadline to rid Syria of its entire arsenal. “The most important deadline in our eyes is June 30, and nothing leads us to believe that it won’t be met,” he said.

The ships will eventually carry the most toxic chemicals to an Italian port where they will be handed over to a United States ship fitted to destroy the material.


(MORE: How Does the News Get Smuggled Out of Syria?)