Norway Sending Troops, Ships to Help Remove Syrian Chemical Arms

An Albanian environmental activist on Thursday protests in Tirana against the possibility of Albania hosting the destruction of chemical weapons from Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Friday is due to approve the Syrian government's plan for destroying those arms (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images).
An Albanian environmental activist on Thursday protests in Tirana against the possibility of Albania hosting the destruction of chemical weapons from Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on Friday is due to approve the Syrian government's plan for destroying those arms (Gent Shkullaku/AFP/Getty Images).

International plans to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons are taking shape, with Norway on Thursday saying it will send troops and ships to the civil-war-torn nation to help move the arsenal, according to the Associated Press.

The announcement comes a day before the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is preparing to approve the Syrian regime's plan for destroying its roughly 1,300 metric tons of sarin nerve agent and mustard gas.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said his country's involvement in the operation is "not risk-free," but leaving the chemical arms in Syria would be a bigger risk, according to AP.

Denmark's parliament also is weighing whether to support the Syrian disarmament effort, and Russia's military is prepared to assist if directed to do so by Russian leaders, The Voice of Russia reported on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday talked on the phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to Agence France-Presse.

The OPCW Executive Council will meet Friday morning at the organization's headquarters in The Hague to consider Syria's chemical-weapons destruction plan, after which it will issue a press release, the organization announced on Thursday. Assad's regime three weeks ago submitted an initial destruction plan, which is confidential and reportedly more than 700 pages long. U.S. officials, though, have questioned if the Syrian government disclosed all of its sites in that preliminary plan.

Assad's government in September agreed to eliminate its arsenal of sarin nerve agent and mustard gas following international condemnation of an Aug. 21 chemical-arms attack on citizens during the nation's bloody civil war.

The Syrian munitions are expected to be destroyed outside of its borders. Albania has been considered a top candidate for hosting the destruction work, though protestors have been denouncing that prospect for days in the Adriatic nation.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama late on Wednesday insisted that he has not decided to allow the chemical destruction in his country, but said he was in favor of doing so if Albania is left "the richer for it," according to Reuters.

Countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland also have contributed money to the Syrian chemical disarmament effort, which is led by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and United Nations.

November 14, 2013
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International plans to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons are taking shape, with Norway on Thursday saying it will send troops and ships to the civil-war-torn nation to help move the arsenal, according to the Associated Press.

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