31 October 2013, 02:59

Albania likely destination for destroying Syrian chemical stockpiles

Albania likely destination for destroying Syrian chemical stockpiles

Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles might be destroyed in Albania. This was announced by the US e-daily "Global security newswire."

It refers to its own information sources as well as a number of prominent non-governmental experts in the field of security and disarmament.

According to their data, transportation of chemical warfare agents from Syria to Albania for subsequent destruction is "an increasingly likely" development.

In addition, it is possible that besides Albania, Syrian chemical weapons arsenals may be destroyed in Belgium and France.

OPCW inspectors miss early chemical disarmament deadline in Syria over security reasons

Inspectors missed an early chemical disarmament deadline in Syria over security reasons. In a statement on Monday the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed verification had been completed at 21 out of the 23 sites identified by the Syrian government.

According to a report revealed for the first time by the chief of the international chemical watchdog Syria declared the existence of 41 chemical weapons facilities at 23 chemical sites.

The chief of the organization said in his first report to the UN Security Council that the inspectors had confirmed information provided by Damascus at 37 of the 41 facilities.

Safety concerns prevented the UN team from reaching two chemical weapons sites.

No details are yet available on what kind of facilities are in the two missed sites but UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported to the Security Council security is reviewed at the two locations.

According to some sources the two sites appear to be in contested areas and ceasefires between the government and the rebels are regarded as a key access to them.

Although officials do not see this hurdle as a threat to the disarmament process many fear that it may signal an ambitious timeline and the risks the UN team faces while conducting their mission.

The question also remains whether Syria has given complete details on its chemical arsenal.

According to some American officials the number of chemical sites may amount to 45.

Complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons production equipment is scheduled for November 1 and the overall disarmament is expected by mid-2014.

Meanwhile UN-Arab League Joint special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, arrived in Syria on Monday to promote the Geneva -2 international conference on Syria.

Brahmi was received by Syrian Deputy Minister Faisal Mekdad but it is not yet clear whether he would meet President Assad.

War prevents inspection of two Syria chemical sites - watchdog

The security situation in war-torn Syria has prevented international inspectors from visiting two remaining chemical weapons sites, the global watchdog said on Monday.

Inspectors had by Sunday visited 21 of 23 chemical sites, but "the two remaining sites have not been visited due to security reasons," The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.

Efforts by the joint OPCW-UN 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, which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

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

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

Damascus was required to submit the destruction plan under a US-Russian deal agreed last month that headed off military strikes on Syria.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime has handed over an inventory of its chemical weapons and facilities, and international inspectors are already busy inspecting and destroying them.

A first monthly report of the inspectors, covering their work on the ground since October 1, is to be sent to the UN Security Council by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

The OPCW's Executive Council will use the Syrian declaration to decide by November 15 on "destruction milestones" for Syria's arsenal.

Syria has also sent in a declaration of its chemical weapons activities and facilities, meeting its obligations as a new state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Voice of Russia, TASSAFP

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