U.N. Seeks Norway's Help to Eliminate Syrian Chemical Arms

A man takes part in an Oct. 16 inspection drill conducted in Germany by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a group charged with overseeing the destruction of Syrian chemical-warfare stocks. Norway on Monday said it might support the destruction of hundreds of tons of chemical-weapon precursors now controlled by Damascus (Christof Strache/AFP/Getty Images).
A man takes part in an Oct. 16 inspection drill conducted in Germany by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a group charged with overseeing the destruction of Syrian chemical-warfare stocks. Norway on Monday said it might support the destruction of hundreds of tons of chemical-weapon precursors now controlled by Damascus (Christof Strache/AFP/Getty Images).

Norway on Monday said it could assume a role in eliminating roughly 500 tons of chemical-arms ingredients stockpiled by the Syrian government, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Calls for Norway's assistance came from the United Nations and multiple member governments, said Ragnhild Imerslund, Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry communications chief.

"Norway has a tradition to contribute when the United Nations asks," Imerslund said. "We are considering this closely."

She added: "It's no secret that the U.S. has offered to lend us mobile destruction units."

Days earlier, Russia said destruction plans were unfinished and pressed for restraint in discussing them, Interfax reported.

"Experts are exploring various options and technological methods of destroying Syrian chemical weapons, including outside Syria. Taking into account that this work has not yet been finished, in our view, it is too early to talk about any specifics," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in comments reported on Saturday.

Moscow was addressing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's remark that a significant portion of the Syrian arms would ideally be "removed from the region" by boat. Syrian President Bashar Assad admitted his forces possess chemical weapons and agreed to their destruction in September, after a nerve-gas attack weeks earlier raised the possibility of U.S. military intervention in the nation's civil war.

A timeline and detailed plan for eliminating the materials are slated for approval by Nov. 15 under an international agreement reached last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted.

"Possible details of this plan are being analyzed in The Hague by an informal working group tasked with planning the disposal of Syrian chemical weapons, in which Russia is participating," the office said.

The chemical-disarmament process was one focus of a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, ITAR-Tass reported on Saturday.

Oct. 21, 2013
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Norway on Monday said it could assume a role in eliminating roughly 500 tons of chemical-arms ingredients stockpiled by the Syrian government, the Wall Street Journal reported.