Syria to Miss Deadline on Destroying Chemical Weapons Sites

Sites Dismantled Months Ago, But Buildings Remain

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed that Syria will miss the March 15 deadline for destroying its former chemical weapons factories, saying none of the 12 sites have been physically destroyed yet.

Not to say that they are still chemical weapons sites. The OPCW had overseen the dismantling of all of them almost immediately, as one of the first stages of the disarmament. Syria had proposed keeping the buildings intact as future industrial sites for other uses, since so much of the country’s infrastructure has been destroyed by the civil war.

Physically destroying the buildings is no easy task, with five of them entirely underground and seven others “hardened” aircraft hangers. The big remaining disarmament goal is shipping chemicals abroad, slated to be done by the end of April.

Removing the chemicals has been harder than expected as well, with the rebels holding much of the area around Latakia port and attacking shipments heading there. There is also speculation that the weapons depot rebels are sieging is one of the weapons sites to be destroyed, though the OPCW has declined to confirm or deny that.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.