Iran Ready to Help Syria Eliminate Chemicals
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) expressed Tehran’s willingness to help the Syrian government to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.
Kazem Gharibabadi, speaking after the 34th meeting of OPCW's executive council at its headquarters in The Hague on Saturday, voiced Iran’s willingness to help Damascus get rid of the chemical weapons stockpile, which Syria in September agreed to destroy in a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
The Iranian representative further emphasized the necessity for the immediate destruction of those chemicals, and said, “The key goal must be focused on the immediate and complete elimination of these weapons, whether inside or outside the country, not on the immediate transfer of these arms from Syria and stationing them in another country.”
He also stressed that the third country where Syria’s chemicals are to be dismantled must be chosen carefully.
This comes after the OPCW’s executive council on Friday approved a road map to destroy Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year.
A joint OPCW-United Nations team charged with overseeing the destruction of the weapons began inspecting sites in October.
The UN Security Council resolution that authorized the mission set a deadline of mid-2014 for Syria to destroy its chemical weapons or face consequences.
In a statement, the OPCW’s executive council said chemical weapons would be transported outside Syria to be destroyed "to ensure their destruction in the safest and soonest manner and no later than June 30, 2014."
Under the plan, all declared chemical substances and precursors except for isopropanol will be removed from Syria no later than February 5.
The OPCW said it was envisaged that "the most critical chemicals" would be removed from Syria by the end of 2013.
It said destruction of Syria's declared chemical weapons facilities would take place between December 15 and March 15 "according to a risk-based criterion."
The OPCW confirmed last month that it had destroyed all Syria's declared chemical weapons production facilities, ahead of a November 1 deadline.
The weapons themselves had been placed under seal, it said.
On Friday, Albania said it would not allow the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons on its soil, after the US had requested that it host the dismantling of Syria's arsenal.
No destination for the stockpile was mentioned in the Friday statement of OPCW's 41-member executive council. However, France and Belgium have been named as possible alternative locations for destroying Syria's estimated 1,000 tons of chemical arms.