International

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Ships Last Declared Chemicals Out Of Syria

A United Nations vehicle carrying inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons leaves a hotel in Damascus last fall.

A United Nations vehicle carrying inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons leaves a hotel in Damascus last fall. Louai Behara/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Louai Behara/AFP/Getty Images

The mission to destroy Syria's chemical arsenal reached a "major landmark" on Monday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.

"The last of the remaining chemicals identified for removal from Syria were loaded this afternoon aboard the Danish ship Ark Futura," OPCW's Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü said. "The ship made its last call at the port of Latakia in what has been a long and patient campaign in support of this international endeavor."

Remember, this mission came together last fall, after the United States issued serious threats of military action against Syria. After Syria agreed to give OPCW access to the country and the United Nations approved the mission, the U.S. stepped off its war footing.

Üzümcü says the stockpile of precursor and other chemicals removed today will then be taken on board the U.S. vessel Cape Ray and at commercial facilities in Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom and U.S., where they will be destroyed.

"The mission to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program has been a major undertaking marked by an extraordinary international cooperation," Üzümcü said. "Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict. And this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight timeframes."

It's worth noting that earlier this spring, Human Rights Watch issued a report saying evidence "strongly suggests" the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against its own people in April.

The OPCW is investigating those claims.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.