2 March 2014
Joint UN-OPCW mission confirms removal of mustard gas shipment from Syria
The Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations confirmed on 26 February 2014 that a shipment of Syria’s reserve of mustard gas has left the country. The Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission, Sigrid Kaag, stated that the shipment is an ‘important step’ in the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Following international outrage over a sarin gas attack on civilians in August 2013, the Joint Mission was installed to supervise Syria’s compliance with its obligation to renounce its chemical weapons, agreed to by Assad after negotiations led by the United States and Russia.
The Syrian government should have shipped out 1,300 tonnes of chemicals by 5 February 2014, but just a handful of cargoes have been handed over for destruction. Diplomats said that Syria has agreed to transport most of the remaining chemicals to its port of Latakia by 13 April 2014, the remainder will be delivered by 27 April 2014. The United States has provided a ship with special equipment to neutralise the worst of the chemical arsenal at sea. The destruction will take 90 days to complete.