Syria Lags in Chemical Weapons Destruction

The Syrian government does not appear to be in any rush to meet the agreed upon June deadline to destroy its chemical weapons, said Robert Mikulak, US permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. To date, 92 percent of the declared chemical weapons stockpile has been removed, but there are still 100 metric tons of chemical weapons remaining in Syria, said Mikulak in a May 8 statement to the 40th meeting of the Executive Council at The Hague, Netherlands. “While we note news that Syria is ‘considering positively’ taking some steps, it has not yet taken them,” said Mikulak. In addition, the regime’s “insufficient and late steps for completing removals and refusal to negotiate on a destruction plan for its chemical weapons production facilities” goes against existing treaties. In addition, Mikulak said “there are several recent credible allegations that chlorine gas was used repeatedly as a chemical weapon.” He called on Syria to allow the OPCW fact-finding team to address such allegations. “As both the [United Nations] Secretary General and the OPCW-UN Joint Mission have made clear, the security situation is cause to complete the removal more rapidly, not more slowly,” said Mikulak. “It is Syria’s responsibility to find ways to deliver these final materials to [the port of] Latakia as rapidly as possible.” (See also Syria Misses Deadline, Administration Touts Progress.) (Mikulak statement.) ?