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Delays Possible in Syria Chemicals Weapons Mission

Delay in Syria chemical weapons mission
OSLO, Norway (AP) -- The head of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning watchdog leading the mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons says there may be delays in transporting the chemicals out of the country.

The most toxic chemicals are supposed to be taken out of Syria by Dec. 31, but that deadline "will be quite difficult to meet," Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters in Oslo on Monday.

"This is very challenging, especially in view of the security situation, which is worsening in this country," he said.

He also called the goal to get less-toxic chemicals out of Syria by Feb. 5 "quite an ambitious timeline" and added "there might be a few days' delay."

Nevertheless, Uzumcu said he's hopeful all the Syrian chemicals will be destroyed by mid-2014 as planned.

He was in the Norwegian capital to collect the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the OPCW on Tuesday.

The plan is to ship the chemicals from the port of Latakia, but getting them there in the middle of a civil war is a challenge.

Syria's deputy foreign minister last week said his country needs armored vehicles and other resources to move chemicals out of the country.

"It's correct that all material and equipment may not be available for the transportation but we are looking ... for alternatives," Uzumcu said. "That's why there might be slight delays in fact in transportation of those weapons outside of the country."

Norway and Denmark have offered merchant ships to help transport chemicals, and the United States will provide a ship on which the most toxic chemicals can be destroyed at sea. The port where the chemicals will be transferred to the U.S. ships has not yet been determined, Uzumcu said.

"Contacts are underway and I'm confident we shall know it soon," he added.

Pro-government TV stations reported Sunday that forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had secured a key highway that the OPCW has said could be used to take the chemicals to Latakia.

Packaging materials that will be used when chemicals are transported have already started to arrive in Lebanon and the mission has organized a course to train Syrian personnel in preparing the chemicals to be moved out of the country by sea.

Some three dozen private companies also have expressed an interest in destroying less-toxic chemicals, which make up the bulk of the 1,300 metric tons of weapons and chemicals declared by Damascus.

Uzumcu said his organization, which was formed to enforce a 1997 treaty banning chemical weapons, would use the Nobel Peace Prize money of $1.2 million to set up its own annual award.

"Of course we are not going to compete with the Nobel Peace Prize. It will be a modest prize, just to recognize those who contribute to our goals," he said.

---

Associated Press writer Karl Ritter in Stockholm contributed to this report.

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sugarcreekchile December 09 2013 at 6:13 PM

Telling the truth isnt on the agenda. The only obstruction to moving the chemical weapons are the rebel jihadists that the current US administration has supported. The fear is the shipments will be attacked or even seized by rebel groups before they can be shipped. Nobody is willing to escort the chemicals out of Syria, where the civil war rages in its third year, or to safeguard their security, so this task will now be performed by the Syrian army itself. Ironic isn't it that the the only group willing to risk life and limb to remove the weapons is the Syrian army not the international players calling for their destruction. As a side note, the Syrian cache is reported by the BBC to be 1000 tonnes. The US has had over 20 years to dismantle its chemical arsenal but still retains 2777 tonnes that haven't been destroyed---almost 3 times the arsenal of Syria. The pot is a lot blacker than the kettle.

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Hello Sean ;) December 09 2013 at 4:29 PM

That's odd, it was reported here a week ago that Syria had destroyed all it's chemical weapons.

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4 replies
Beckey Neal December 09 2013 at 3:43 PM

And you really thought all along that they would REALLY get rid of them?

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greenliks December 09 2013 at 3:29 PM

I'm curious to know just exactly who is paying to move and ultimately vaporize these 1,300 metric tons of chemical weapons? I'm positive it isn't the country that made them....Iran...and certainly not the chinless bastard who rules the country the weapons sit in.

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wjs27skeet December 09 2013 at 3:19 PM

Well this is interesting, The US starts a campaign against Syria because the rebels claim chemical weapons used. Funny but I don't recall Syria calling for the US to destroy all chemical weapons, when they used them on innocent US Civilians at Waco TX, Yes that's right CS gas is a chemical weapon according to the US Army and the result of the use of the CS gas was 76 innocent men, women and children being killed.

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poppaspond December 09 2013 at 3:22 PM

"A few days delay" , read months and then maybe never. Mr Obama is you red line quiverring?

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1 reply
rreggaeredkc poppaspond December 09 2013 at 5:16 PM

Oh Poppa...predicting the future and more doom and gloom. I saw nothing in this article to indicate the US has agreed. Uzumcu issued this statement.

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Brian Workman December 09 2013 at 9:43 PM

Ya! Think!? I told you so! This isn't going to end well!!

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suncruzma December 09 2013 at 7:30 PM

I feel sorry for these people and I don't think many can flee it must be terrible living in a country where they kill there own. God bless you all

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gpilgrim25 December 09 2013 at 6:56 PM

And again BHO has put American in a situation where we can be pushed around. So, what happens now? BHO will just smile, step back, and say OK.

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Beth December 09 2013 at 6:39 PM

ALBO 4 LIFE

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