UK official: Syria likely to miss weapons deadline

 

A British diplomat warned Thursday that Syria has not turned over the last of its chemical weapons stockpile and likely will miss a deadline to destroy the deadly agents, Reuters reported.

“There is still no sign of any movement of chemicals, nor any indications of a time scale for a move" to eliminate the remaining 7 percent of the toxic materials, a U.K. representative told the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a statement.

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Roughly 92.5 percent of Syria’s chemical stockpile has already been removed from the country. International focus has recently honed in on a site near Damascus that holds about 7.2 percent of the remaining warfare agents but has proven difficult to access due to local conflicts.

As part of an international compromise last year, Syria agreed to abolish its chemical weapons. President Bashar Assad's government has missed several interim deadlines on the elimination effort; the complete stockpile was to be disposed of by June 30.

However, “it is growing ever clearer that the 30 June deadline will not be met,” according to the British statement.

On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Damascus’s remaining chemical agents were “starting to be moved as we speak” and that destruction work continues “apace.”

Most of the agents are to be destroyed onboard the Cape Ray, a converted U.S. cargo ship. The rest of the toxic materials will be sent to commercial destruction sites in Germany, Finland and Britain.