Syrian Chemical Weapons Destruction Proceeding Slowly

Syrian Chemical Weapons Destruction Proceeding Slowly

One of the Obama administration’s biggest foreign policy gambles, the agreement to rid Syria of its chemical weapons in the midst of that country’s civil war, is behind schedule but still making progress. Despite tensions over Ukraine and the outcome of the Syrian civil war itself, the United States, Russia and others appear to be maintaining cooperation on the issue.

On Monday, the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)—the Netherlands-based international organization responsible for ensuring compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention—announced in a statement that the Syrian government had delivered two additional shipments of chemicals to the port city of Latakia, which were boarded on cargo ships for removal.

According to the OPCW, Syria has shipped out 65 percent of its chemical stockpile, including 57.4 percent of its “priority 1” chemicals, which include sulfur mustard and nerve agent precursors. These are percentages of the 1,200 metric tons of chemicals that Syria has agreed to destroy, including 700 metric tons of priority 1 chemicals. A Danish ship will transport the chemicals in the latest shipment to a port in Italy, where they will be transferred to a U.S. ship—the MV Cape Ray—which will neutralize them in international waters.

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