chemical weapons

The Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations (OPCW-UN) has completed the removal of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile.

The process started in early January, as part of an agreement brokered by Russia and the US, by which Syria declared its chemical weapons material and joined the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Considered to be challenging due to volatile security conditions, the final phase of the process focused on the removal of the remaining 7.2% of the 1,300t declared chemical weapons.

OPCW-UN director-general Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement that the last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal were transported to the Danish ship, Ark Futura, at the Syrian port of Latakia.

"The final phase of the process focused on the removal of the remaining 7.2% of the 1,300t declared chemical weapons."

"The next stage in this mission is the completion of the maritime operations, to deliver the chemicals for destruction at the assigned facility onboard the US vessel Cape Ray and at commercial facilities in Finland, Germany, the UK and the US," Uzumcu said.

"The mission has seen over 30 countries and the EU committing significant financial and in-kind assistance. This cooperation covered key logistical and transportation requirements, including a complex maritime operation."

Charged with leading the Syrian chemical weapons destruction in 2013, the Hague-based agency said Damascus has also destroyed all of its declared production, mixing and filling equipment and munitions, and many buildings associated with its chemical weapons programme.

However, 12 production facilities are yet to be destroyed, and are awaiting a decision by the OPCW Executive Council.

Originally scheduled to be completed by 30 June, the programme is now several months behind schedule, and is supported by China, Cyprus, Denmark, Lebanon, Norway, Russia, as well as the UK and the US.

Image: OPCW-UN Joint Mission special coordinator Sigrid Kaag inspecting preparations for the destruction of chemical weapons at the Syrian port of Latakia. Photo: courtesy of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission.

Defence Technology