Russia has confirmed today that the December 31 deadline for removing the most toxic chemicals from Syria’s chemical weapons program is not going to be met, following through on previous warnings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that heavy fighting was delaying transport.
Russia has agreed to take responsibility for transporting the chemicals, on Russia-provided trucks, to the port city of Latakia. The chemicals will be handled on a US ship in international waters.
The plan is unchanged, but the date is a bit shaky, with Foreign Ministry official Mikhail Ulyanov saying Russia “of course” wasn’t going to get all the chemicals out by the 31st, and that the country was reluctant to provide any details on dates for fear of rebel interference.
Most of the dates in the UN Security Council resolution were highly speculative, and much faster than Syria is obliged to meet under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). This will, however, be the first time a date was actually missed, as things have so far going quite well.
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