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Report: Syrian Chemical Request Pits West Against Disarmament Officials
The West is resisting international calls for chemical-arms transport supplies of potential use in fighting Syria's rebels, Foreign Policy reports.
The United States and other Western countries fear Syrian President Bashar Assad could use some requested equipment to help combat opposition forces in the nation's civil war, according to a Wednesday posting on the magazine's Cable blog. Assad admitted possessing chemical weapons and agreed to their destruction in September, after a nerve-gas attack weeks earlier raised the possibility of U.S. military intervention against his regime.
The Syrian government's most dangerous chemical-warfare assets are slated to be transferred within weeks through disputed areas of the country to the port of Latakia, where foreign vessels would move them abroad for destruction. Officials charged with overseeing the disarmament effort have repeatedly aired worries about how to keep the materials secure during transport to the coastal city.
Sigrid Kaag, the special coordinator of the international mission to eliminate Syria's chemical arsenal, on Nov. 4 told U.N. member states that governments had yet to honor requests by Assad's regime for 40 strike-resistant transport vehicles, as well as more than 80 automobiles for purposes including medical evacuation and fire suppression. She added her office was still seeking provisions for 1,000 personnel who would protect the warfare chemicals and lock down their pathway to Latakia.
The disarmament mission is also still in need of financial support, the Xinhua News Agency quoted Ahmet Üzümcü as saying on Wednesday. The Turkish diplomat is director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Russia is weighing whether to supply Assad's government with 200 vehicles for moving the materials, one U.N. envoy told the Cable. However, a spokesman for Moscow's mission to the United Nations declined to offer specifics.
A document due out next Tuesday will outline the full blueprint for removing Syria's full chemical arsenal from the country, Martin Nesirky, spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said in Wednesday comments reported by Xinhua.
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