U.S. cool to extension of Syrian chemical weapons deadline

Feb. 22, 2014 at 10:24 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The United States said Syria did not need additional time to complete the transfer of its chemical-weapons arsenal to international regulators.

The U.S. representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons chided the Syrians for this week's request for an extension of the deadline, saying the logistical issues cited by Damascus were not serious enough to warrant further delay, the New York Times reported.

"Completion of removal (of the weapons) and destruction by June 30, 2014, is indeed achievable if action is taken by Syria now," Robert Mikulak said in a written version of the concerns he voiced at Friday's OPCW meeting at The Hague.

Syria was supposed to have dismantled 12 weapons facilities by Feb. 6; however Damascus said there were security concerns about transporting chemicals in the war-torn nation, and proposed deactivating the 12 facilities rather than tearing them down completely.

The Times said the delay would have to be approved by the OPCW and would essentially nullify the June 30 deadline set by the United Nations Security Council.

Mikulak said the steps for turning the materials over to the international community for destruction were all in place and alleged that, "Syria continues to drag its feet."

"The international community has put into place everything that is necessary for transport and destruction of these chemicals," Mikulak said.

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