NATO ready to support Syrian weapons mission

Dec. 4, 2013 at 10:36 AM

BRUSSELS, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- NATO and Russia said Wednesday they were ready through a joint council to help with the disposal of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal if requested.

"We welcome all support provided by the NATO Russia Council member states to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-U.N. joint mission and stand ready to consider further assistance to the OPCW-U.N. joint mission if requested," a statement from the joint council said Wednesday.

The OPCW adopted a plan in November for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. It said declared chemical substances and chemical weapons precursors should be out of Syria no later than Feb. 5. Under the plan all of Syria's chemical weapons will be transported outside the country to ensure their destruction no later than June 30.

OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said "the most viable option available" is to destroy those weapons outside of Syria because of the security situation in the country.

Albania was considered as an early destination. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said last month his government was willing to be involved in the operation but lacked the internal capacity to participate directly.

"We urge all parties to fully cooperate with the OPCW-U.N. joint mission and underscore the importance of the complete and verifiable elimination of all chemical weapons, material and equipment, in the soonest and safest manner," the joint NATO statement said.

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