Syria submits chemical weapons destruction plan

Syria has submitted its plan to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, meeting the first major deadline of the destruction plan. 

On Thursday, the Syrian government handed over its official declaration and general plan to destroy its weapons to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the OPCW said in a statement released Sunday. 

As a result, its government has met an Oct. 27 deadline set by the OPCW executive council in September. 

“Such declarations provide the basis on which plans are devised for a systematic, total and verified destruction of declared chemical weapons and production facilities,” the statement said. 

Russia originally proposed the plan for Syria to rid its arsenal in early September in an effort to thwart the threat of a U.S. military strike on Syria. 

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The Obama administration geared up to launch a military operation in response to an August chemical weapons attack that officials said killed more than 1,400 in the suburbs of Damascus. 

The threat was put on hold, however, when Syria agreed to Russia’s offer and joined the chemical weapons convention, which requires its government to transfer its chemical weapons to international control. 

The OPCW group sent experts to Syria to oversee the process, after the United Nations Security Council members unanimously voted to resolve the situation diplomatically.  The organization aims to destroy the chemical weapons production equipment by Nov. 1. 

Sixty inspectors have been in Syria since Oct. 1. On Friday, the OPCW said they have since visited 19 of 23 chemical weapons sites that were disclosed by Syria.