Chemical watchdog: Syria must ‘pick up the pace’ in disarmament

“The need for the process to pick up the pace is obvious,” Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement. (File photo: Reuters)

The world’s chemical watchdog called Friday for Syria to “pick up the pace” in shipping out its chemical weapons stockpile after a key deadline was missed, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The need for the process to pick up the pace is obvious,” Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement after a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) executive council on Thursday in The Hague.

Just two shipments of chemicals have so far left the Syrian port of Latakia, accounting for less than four percent of the country’s declared arsenal of most dangerous chemicals, the United States said this week.

Meanwhile, Russia has defended the Syrian government saying they are acting in good faith” to eliminate its chemical weapons. Interfax quoted a Russian diplomat as saying on Friday that no further international pressure needs to be put on Damascus.

“We see that the Syrians are approaching the fulfilment of their obligations seriously and in good faith,” Interfax quoted diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov as saying

Around 700 tons of chemicals were supposed to have left Syria by Dec. 31, putting the disarmament project weeks behind schedule.

Earlier this month, Uzumcu spoke to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and “they both agreed that it was necessary for the removal process to pick up pace,” said an OPCW document published earlier this week, AFP reported.

Syria has told the OPCW that it is “making intensive efforts to prepare for, and accelerate, the transportation of chemicals, and that it is currently working on a tentative schedule for completing the transportation of chemicals.”

(With AFP and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41