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Syrian chemical weapons arsenal inoperable

Oct. 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A team mandated to destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal has visited nearly 80 percent of the sites declared by the government, a mission spokesman said.

A deal brokered by the U.S. and Russian governments led to the creation of a joint monitoring team from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

Michal Luhan, a spokesman for the OPCW, said during a Wednesday news conference that inspectors in Syria have visited 18 of the 23 sites declared by the Syrian government. Inspectors were using "quick and cheap" methods to destroy what the OPCW says is critical equipment to manufacture chemical weapons.

"That critical equipment will be destroyed, rendering the production facilities and equipment inoperable, unusable," he said. The destruction of the equipment means Syria will no longer have the ability to produce chemical weapons.

A separate monitoring mission established by the United Nations confirmed the nerve agent sarin was used as a weapon of war during conflict in Syria in August. That mission wasn't mandated to assess blame for the attack, though U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said advanced weapons were used for their deployment.

The OPCW won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

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