U.S. mulls options on Syria chemical arms

No EU nation has offered to host the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpile thus far

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Two options on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons are being explored by the United States and its allies, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.

A plan to eliminate the weapons, drawn up by the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, involves finding a country to host the destruction process.

Earlier this week, Albania rejected a U.S. request to host the weapons destruction.

Belgium had been considered a strong candidate after the withdrawal of Albania, but Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said that "the movement of those weapons is a tough enough task in itself" and crossed his country out as a possible destination.

Asked whether the process had stalled after no country had agreed to take them, Kerry told a news conference: “We are on target. Now, one country or another may have examined the question of taking those weapons under their jurisdiction in order to destroy them. We are not without other alternatives.

“In fact, we are actively pursuing two other alternatives which provide us the complete capacity to do the destruction and to meet the schedule,” he added.

The plan seeks to destroy about 1,300 tons of Syria’s sarin, mustard gas and other agents, which world powers believe have been used against civilians during the country’s ongoing civil war.

Faced with the threat of U.S. missile strikes, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed in September to give up his country’s chemicals weapons stockpile following a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people outside the capital Damascus.

A plan adopted by the OPCW in The Hague on Friday called for the most critical chemicals to be transported out of Syria by Dec. 31 and destroyed between Dec. 15 and March 15. All other declared chemical materials would be eliminated by June 30.

(With Reuters)

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