UNITED NATIONS — Syria has submitted a new 100-day plan for the removal of its chemical weapons to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) after failing to meet a February 5 deadline, but OPCW believes it can be done in a shorter time frame, according to diplomats.
The OPCW executive committee met on Friday in The Hague to discuss the joint OPCW and U.N. mission amid growing international frustration at Syria for falling behind on its commitments.
The Syrian government failed to meet the February 5 OPCW deadline to move all of its declared chemical substances and precursors out of the country.
The final deadline under the plan is for all of Syria’s declared chemical materials to be destroyed by June 30.
Phillip Hall, head of the British Foreign Office Counter Proliferation Department, to OPCW, according to a statement:
“The Syrian 100 day plan for removal of the chemicals, on which we have been briefed, is not adequate.
We now urge the Syrian authorities to accept the proposals submitted by the Operational Planning Group that provide for removal in a much shorter time frame, without compromising on security.”
The OPCW declined to comment on the proposal.
The United States has sent the MV Cape Ray, a ship outfitted with special equipment to neutralize the worst of Syria’s chemicals at sea, and says it will need 90 days to complete the destruction.
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad agreed to destroy his chemical weapons following global outrage over a sarin gas attack in August. The chemical attack sparked a U.S. threat of military strikes which was dropped following Assad’s pledge to give up chemical arms.
Robert Mikulak, U.S. ambassador to the OPCW:
“The international community has put into place everything that is necessary for transport and destructuion of these chemicals. Sufficient equipment and material has been provided to Syria. The ships to carry the chemicals away from Syria are waiting.
The U.S. ship to destroy CW agent and precursors is now in the region and waiting. Commercial facilities to destroy other chemicals have been selected and contracts awarded; they are waiting. And yet Syria continues to drag its feet.”