The U.S. has accused Syria of dragging its feet after missing a deadline to remove its chemical weapons from the country.
Syria has missed the Feb. 5 deadline to hand over all of the chemical agents it has declared to the OPCW. There have been no shipments since Jan. 27.
"The effort to remove chemical agent and key precursor chemicals from Syria has seriously languished and stalled." Robert Mikulak, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Despite the delays, OPCW Director Ahmet Uzumcu said he expected to still meet the June 2014 date to destroy the weapons.
Mikulak said Syria attributes the delay to "security concerns" and requests for additional equipment, but claimed the demands are "without merit, and display a 'bargaining mentality' rather than a security mentality."
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed chemical agents had been loaded aboard a Danish vessel. The ship, escorted by other Danish and Norwegian vessels, will remain at sea while other chemicals are transported by ground to Latakia. Some 500 tons will be shipped in total.
The Italian government said Jan. 16 that Gioia Tauro in the Calabria region would be the transfer port for Syria's chemical weapons agents. The operation is slated to take place by early February. Some 60 containers will be transferred to the U.S. Navy's MV Cape Ray at sea and none will be brought to shore.
Following a UN Security Council resolution and Syria's stated compliance with the UN treaty on chemical weapons, experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) entered Syria in Oct. 2013 to begin the disarmament process.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Dec. 6, 2013, that all of Syria's unfilled munitions have been destroyed, as well as "special features" of buildings near Homs where the weapons were produced.
The OPCW said in Nov. 2013 that the Syrian government had provided it with photo and video evidence that a chemical weapons site near the city of Aleppo was dismantled and abandoned. The images, tagged with time and location data, showed that the building was empty and had "extensive battle damage."
A UN report released in Sept. 2013 said there was "clear and convincing evidence" that rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in the Aug. 21, 2013, attack near Damascus, which killed hundreds. Inspectors were ordered to report on whether weapons were used, not on who used them.
On Aug. 26 the UN inspection team was able to reach victims of the apparent chemical weapons attack near Damascus and take samples, despite coming under fire from "unidentified snipers." One vehicle was incapacitated by the fire, forcing some inspectors to turn back, but there were no injuries reported.
A UN report published Dec. 12 said that in addition to the Aug. 21 sarin attack in Damascus, sarin was also likely used in attacks in Khan al Assal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafiah Sahnaya between March and August. The report did not place blame on either the government or opposition forces.
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