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MOSCOW, Russia (UPDATED) – Russia said on Friday, November 1, that most of Syria’s chemical weapons may be taken out of the country for destruction because of the violence raging between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“Much speaks in favor of the idea of moving the predominant majority of the toxic agents that exist in Syria out of this country,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
Ryabkov spoke after being briefed by Sigrid Kaag – the Dutch diplomat heading the risky international mission to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons – on her team’s progress under a disarmament plan devised jointly by Moscow and Washington in September.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reported on Thursday that Syria’s entire declared stock of chemical weapons has been placed under seal.
But how nations go about actually destroying the weapons by the mid-2014 deadline has been a point of debate.
The Chemical Weapons Convention bars countries from transporting their stockpiles to other nations.
But UN Security Council resolution 2118 adopted in September authorized member states to help transport the weapons stockpiles so they could be destroyed in “the soonest and safest manner”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has previously said that some of Syria’s declared stock of more than 1,000 tonnes of toxic agents may be destroyed abroad.
Ryabkov estimated the cost of the stockpiles’ destruction at $300-400 million.
“But this is under the condition that there are no acts of terror, and that those who are actually involved in the operation are not being targeted,” the Russian diplomat said.
Friday’s edition of Moscow’s Kommersant daily quoted an unnamed Russian diplomatic source as saying that world powers may shortly agree to transfer the weapons for destruction in Albania.
The report said that both Turkey and Jordan have already rejected US requests to accept the dangerous shipments.
Kommersant added that Washington was now holding talks on the matter “with 2 or 3 countries”.
Kaag said on Friday that Russian and US official were still conducting discussions with Assad’s government about how the chemical weapons can be destroyed. – Rappler.com