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Special Coordinator for the Joint Mission of the OPCW and the UN to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme, Sigrid Kaag

Conveying to the press that an intensification in the removal of chemical weapons in Syria is happening, Special Coordinator for the Joint Mission of the UN-OPCW Sigrid Kaag speaks following a closed-door meeting at the UN General Assembly on March 6, 2014. The United Nations and the OPCW is working closely together now to completely dismantle and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme. Image: UN photo

(WNN) United Nations, New York, UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: After a closed door meeting with the United Nations General Assembly yesterday in New York there is good news concerning the removal and destruction of Syria’s toxic chemical weapons. Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the OPCW and the UN to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme, spoke to journalists to say that acceleration efforts for removing toxic agents in Syria have been going well.

The campaign will definitely be meeting the June 30, 2014 goal for destroying the nation’s chemical weapons, Special Coordinator Kaag conveyed.

“If we combine removal and destruction, the Mission has concluded now that about one-third of Syria’s chemical weapons material has been removed or destroyed,” added Kaag.

During a recent meeting with Special Coordinator Kaag, OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü outlined that armored jackets have also been used in the chemical transports to insure safety.

“Given delays since the lapse of the two target dates for removal, it will be important to maintain this newly created momentum,” said the OPCW Director-General. “For its part, the Syrian Government has reaffirmed its commitment to implement the removal operations in a timely manner.”

Confirmation on the chemical removal reveals that two verified shipments of chemicals did leave the Syrian port city of Latakia on Wednesday March 5. This shipment was part of the joint mission for OPCW – Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations. Included as part of the shipment is a ‘Priority 1 chemical’, identified as mustard gas.

“With a lot of continued effort, hard work, and support by the international community, we look forward to see continued progress. But it remains hard work,” Special Coordinator Kaag outlined.

In efforts to reach the June 30 deadline for the complete removal of Syria’s chemical weapons programme, March is considered by those who are working on-the-ground to be a ‘critical’ month. More shipments of Priority 1 chemicals are scheduled to arrive in Latakia in the coming days.

“Ms. Kaag said that she expected that number to reach 40-41 per cent in the next few days,” outlined a Wednesday release by the UN News Centre.

With the world watching, according to the UN, Syrian authorities initiated removal of chemical weapons in January 2013. Reports indicate that in late 2013 the ‘functional’ destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities, including munitions designed for chemical warfare were put into effect.

“Speaking to reporters after a closed-door briefing to the Security Council, Ms. Kaag said there has been an ‘intensification of effort’ in the last few days by the Syrian authorities,” added the UN News Centre.

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