TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adopted a new plan for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, after Albania refused to host the dismantling of the stockpile.
The country turned the option down despite a request by the US, its NATO ally.
“It is impossible for Albania to get involved in this operation,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said Friday, following a heated debate discussions with several UN members, including the US and days of growing public discontent at home.
The move struck a blow to a US-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical arsenal, as the OPCW hit the deadline Friday for a step-by-step plan to get rid of 1,300 tons of Syria’s sarin, mustard gas, and other agents, RT reported.
The plan adopted on Friday night sets out new deadlines for the dismantling process, but does not name the host country. “Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the ‘safest and soonest manner’, and no later than June 30th 2014,” reads a statement on the organization’s website.
“The plan provides a clear roadmap. It sets ambitious milestones to be met by the government,” OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said. “This next phase will be the most challenging and its timely execution will require the existence of a secure environment for the verification and transport of chemical weapons.”
“Continuing international support and assistance for this endeavour will remain crucial,” he added.
According to the plan, the “most critical” chemicals will be transported out of Syria by December 31, 2013. All other declared chemical substances and precursors will be removed no later than February 5, 2014, with the exception of isopropanol – one of the two key ingredients for sarin.
The possibility of Tirana inviting thousands of tons of toxic waste from Syria to be destroyed on its territory sparked protests, with hundreds of demonstrators taking to the streets to say “no” to such a plan.
“We lack the necessary capacities to get involved in this operation,” PM Rama added in his televised address on Friday.
Albania was considering hosting a facility for dismantling the chemicals at the request of the United States, its close Western ally.
However, an OPCW source earlier told Reuters, Albania may not be the only hope for the completion of the plan.
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