Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

Security slows Syria arms switch

A cargo ship at harbour in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro where a shipment of chemical weapons materials from Syria will be transferred to a US ship (AP)

Security "challenges" in Syria slowed the transport of raw materials for poison gas and nerve agents to a port for transport and eventual destruction, the global chemical weapons watchdog says.

But additional measures are being taken and the process should pick up in the coming days and weeks.

The head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmet Uzumcu, said he is still confident that Syria's chemical weapons will be destroyed as scheduled by the end of June.

In a briefing with reporters in Rome, Mr Uzumcu said the OPCW met Syrian officials in the Hague yesterday to discuss the delays. He said additional measures are being taken and "we hope we can move relatively quickly in the coming weeks".

Meanwhile Italian officials say the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro will be the site for the transfer of a shipment of chemical weapons materials from Syria to a US ship.

The raw materials for poison gas and nerve agents are on board a Danish ship, and Italy has agreed to serve as the transfer port to a US ship.

Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said a total of 60 containers of the material would be transferred ship-to-ship at the port in Calabria, near the toe of the Italian boot, and none would be brought to shore.

AP

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