The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has called for the removal of Syria’s entire chemical weapons materials out of the country by the end of June.
“This movement is very important because it’s the first important step in an expected process of continued movement for the onward destruction out of [the] country,” said Sigrid Kaag, the head of the joint mission of the United Nations and the OPCW in Syria, in a statement on Wednesday after she briefed the UN Security Council on the issue.
Kaag also stated that the Security Council expects that there will be no delay beyond June 30 for the elimination of all the materials.
There is a “collective expectation” by the Council that “looking at the end-of-June deadline, there’s no reason to assume that a delay will occur, all things being equal,” she said.
The head of the UN-OPCW joint mission also touched upon security issues in Syria and challenges that could impede the mission.
“We also have to remember that Syria is a country at war, the security situation can shift from day to day,” Kaag said.
“Security when it comes to access to sites, getting caught in crossfire, direct fire, indirect fire, is a concern for the mission.”
She also hailed Syria’s cooperation in bringing about the progress the mission has made. Kaag said the Syrian government has been “constructive” in its cooperation.
On January 7, the OPCW said the chemical weapons materials were transported from two sites to the port city of Latakia for verification and then loaded onto a Danish vessel, which headed for international waters.
A group of Chinese, Danish, Norwegian and Russian vessels provide maritime security for the shipload.
The movement marks the start of the process that will see the transfer of chemical materials from Syria to locations outside its territory for destruction.
The removal was originally scheduled to take place before December 31, 2013, but was delayed due to security issues, logistical problems and poor weather conditions.