Norway bows out as location for destruction of Syria's chemical arms

Oct. 25, 2013 at 7:57 AM
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OSLO, Norway, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Norwegian officials, citing time and regulatory issues, turned down a U.S. request to help destroy chemical weapons in the dismantling of Syria's toxic arsenal.

"After a comprehensive assessment, the two countries [Norway and the United States] have come to the joint understanding that due to time constraints and external factors -- such as capacities, regulatory requirements -- Norway is not the most suitable location for the destruction of Syrian chemical warfare agents," a statement released Friday by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said.

Norway will consider how to support the destruction process by other means, including contribution of personnel and equipment and financial assistance, the statement said.

The statement said Norway and the United States had been in "extensive discussion" for several weeks on issues concerning "the possible destruction of Syrian chemical warfare agents in Norway" but it was decided that "Norway is not the most suitable location for this destruction."

The U.S. Embassy in Oslo and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is leading the effort to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, did not comment, The New York Times reported.

During a news conference earlier this week, the OPCW said 18 of 23 disclosed sites had been visited and "fundamental destruction" activities critical to the development of chemical weapons had been taken at nearly all of the sites.

Under a U.N. Security Council resolution, all chemical production and mixing plants, along with equipment used for filling rockets and shells with nerve agents such as sarin or sulfur mustard gas, must be destroyed by Nov. 1. The entire arsenal must be destroyed by the middle of next year.

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