The Obama administration today slammed Syria for failing to fulfill its pledges to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction and voiced concern that the entire project could now be in jeopardy. U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Robert P. Mikulak accused Syria of “open-ended delaying” of the disarmament process in an attempt to renegotiate the deal it agreed to last fall. (LATimes, 30 January)
“Syria’s open-ended delaying of the removal operation could ultimately jeopardize the carefully timed and coordinated multistate removal and destruction effort,” Ambassador Mikulak added.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in Warsaw today for a visit, said the Syrians “need to fix this.”
Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to surrender his chemical arsenal to deflect President Obama’s threat to launch punitive missile strikes last summer in response to use of chemical weapons in the civil war in Syria.
Under a disarmament plan proposed by the Syrians, Damascus was to deliver 700 tons of its most dangerous chemicals by next Wednesday to the port of Latakia, where the material would be loaded onto ships and destroyed at sea. But officials say it has delivered only about 32 tons, in two shipments on 7 and 27 January.
Mikulak also accused Syria of violating its pledge to destroy chemical weapons production facilities. Instead of following through on promises to destroy seven hardened aircraft hangars and five underground facilities, Syria is proposing to make the facilities “inactivated” by welding doors shut and erecting interior obstacles.