Syria Lacking Progress: Chemical Weapon Disposal Behind Schedule

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Syria may miss an important deadline for relinquishing chemical weapons when they recently had delays. Though the government had begun the process of handing over the weapons, this set back could lead to them missing the agreed upon June 30 deadline. Weapons, including mustard and sarin, were being stockpiled and used on citizens of Syria by the government, led by Bashar al-Assad. On October 31, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (or, OPCW) announced that it was “confident that no additional chemical agents or munitions [could] be produced in Syria,” according to a White House blog post, written by Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs Elizabeth Sherwood Randall.

Now, the OPCW, the U.S., and other nations have begun aiding efforts for the removal and elimination of the chemical weapons stockpile. When asked whether or not the missed deadline was a concern, White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said that the U.S. had been clear on what expectations they have for Assad’s actions in regards to chemical weapons. “I would note that Russia has said it expects the Assad regime to deliver a substantial portion of its chemical weapons stockpile in the relatively near future, and we obviously believe that’s very important.Russia has a lot at stake here,” he said.

“Those governments and nations that were instrumental in bringing about the agreement by the Syrian regime to give up its weapons for destruction need to fulfill their obligations,” meaning that again, Russia will be under a lot of pressure — especially with eyes on it from the Winter Olympics — to aid in the success of the removal. “Russia played an important role with the United States in helping bring about the agreement, and all of our partners on this matter are going to continue to insist that the Assad regime fulfill its obligations.”

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