U.N. chief says Syria to meet key chemical arms deadline

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Syria is on target to meet a looming deadline to destroy its chemical weapons production equipment, even though inspectors have yet to visit all sites, Agence France Presse reported U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon as saying on Monday.

“The functional destruction of the declared capacity of the Syrian Arab Republic is expected to be completed as planned by November 1,” Ban said in a report to the U.N. Security Council obtained by AFP.

Meanwhile, international inspectors are not able to visit two remaining chemical weapons sites because of the security situation in the war-torn Syria, the global watchdog said Monday.

Inspectors had by Sunday visited 21 of 23 chemical sites, but “the two remaining sites have not been visited due to security reasons,” AFP quoted The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons as saying in a statement.

Efforts by the joint OPCW-United Nations mission charged with destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal by mid-2014 “to ensure the conditions necessary for safe access to those sites will continue,” said the OPCW.

Syria has submitted a formal declaration of its chemical weapons program ahead of an October 27 deadline, together with a general plan of destruction.

Inspectors, who are on the unprecedented mission in a war zone, were supposed to have visited all sites declared by Syria by the same deadline of Sunday.

The sites declared by Damascus are part of its poison gas and nerve agent program.

Meanwhile, the mission didn’t clarify who was responsible for the security problem, but that negotiations “to ensure the conditions necessary for safe access” to the two remaining sites will continue.

(With AFP and Associated Press)

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