Russian FM welcomes complete removal of chemical weapons from Syria

MOSCOW, June 24 (PNA/ITAR-TASS) — The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed the successful completion of the international operation to remove chemical weapons and their precursors from Syria.

“This marks the end of the most important and complex stage of the plan to destroy chemical weapons outside the country, which was worked out by the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] and approved by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118,” the ministry said.

The plan was adopted in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s initiative put forth in 2013 when the crisis over Syria had come to its head.

About 1,200 tonnes of chemical weapons were removed from Syria during the operation.

“Syria’s rejection of combat toxic agents has become a fact: chemical weapon production facilities, mixing and ammunition filling equipment, as well as all unfilled shells were destroyed. About 1,200 tonnes of toxic chemicals were removed from the country and over 100 tonnes were eliminated in the country by agreement with the OPCW,” the ministry said.

It stressed that the main goal of chemical demilitarisation of Syria had been achieved. “This is a vivid example of how the international community can solve the most complex disarmament and non-proliferation task if it acts concertedly and purposefully,” the ministry said.

Russia “urges all states that are still outside the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction to follow the example of the Syrian Arab Republic and join this one of the most successful and effective multilateral treaties in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation without delay”.

OPCW Secretary-General Ahmet Uzumcu described this as “a major landmark” in the process of removing chemical weapons from Syria. “The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura. The ship made its last call at the port of Latakia in what has been a long and patient campaign in support of this international endeavour,” Uzumcu said.

He said most of the chemicals would be destroyed within the next 60 days.

Uzumcu said that “the next stage in this mission is the completion of the maritime operations to deliver the chemicals for destruction at the assigned facility on board the U.S. vessel Cape Ray and at commercial facilities in Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.”

He stressed that the mission had seen over 30 countries and European Union committing significant financial and in-kind assistance. This cooperation covered key logistical and transportation requirements, including a complex maritime operation. “The collaboration with Member States relating to destruction activities and the provision of equipment and industrial facilities for this purpose is unprecedented in the history of disarmament,” the Secretary-General said.

Work to remove and destroy Syrian chemical weapons has been on since late last year. Chemical weapons will be destroyed by Britain, Germany, the United States, and Finland. When all of the Syrian chemicals from all storage sites have been loaded aboard the Danish and Norwegian cargo ships, they will be transported to various locations for destruction under the verification of OPCW inspectors.

The majority of Priority 1 chemicals will be neutralised at sea aboard the U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray, while a smaller amount will be neutralised at a land-based facility in Ellesmere Port, UK. The Priority 2 chemicals will be destroyed at commercial facilities in the U.S. and Finland. A facility in Germany will dispose of part of the effluent from the Cape Ray operations, the OPCW said.

On November 15, 2013, the OPCW Executive Council (EC) approved a detailed plan of destruction to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In the plan, Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner”, and no later than June 30, 2014.

Under Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) and decisions of the OPCW Executive Council, Syria’s entire chemical weapons programme is to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.

Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons under an agreement brokered last year by Russia and the United States.(PNA/ITAR-TASS)