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Britain to Protest Syria Chemical Delays at U.N. Security Council
The United Kingdom is expected to question delays in Syria's chemical disarmament at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, Reuters reports.
The British Foreign Office announced the plan on Wednesday, as the Syrian government failed to meet a goal date for transferring its chemical arsenal to other countries for destruction. The milestone was part of a timeline to finish eliminating the stockpile by the end of June.
"Syria agreed to the deadlines for removing this material. We recognize that they are challenging but do not accept Syria's excuses for continuing delay," a British Foreign Office spokesman said.
"We will raise these delays at the Security Council tomorrow, making clear that Syria needs to meet its obligations," the official added. The spokesman did not address whether London would seek action on the matter by the 15-nation body, which ordered Syrian President Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical arms in a resolution last year.
Sigrid Kaag, who leads the international mission to eliminate Syria's chemical arms, on Thursday told the Security Council essentially the same thing, according to a Reuters report.
"With deadline on the horizon, it is essential that Syria accelerates" movement of the deadly items out of the Middle Eastern nation, Kaag reportedly said at the closed U.N. briefing, according to an unnamed envoy. "Time for action is now."
Addressing Parliament, British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country "will continue to put pressure on all parties to make sure the chemical weapons are produced and destroyed."
Assad's regime verified the existence of its chemical arms and agreed to relinquish them in the aftermath of an Aug. 21 nerve-agent strike near the edge of Damascus.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, U.N. Security Council Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the end-of-June destruction goal is still achievable, Reuters reported.
"The process has been moving on rather smoothly even though there have been some delays," the U.N. chief said. "Our target is June 30 this year. This may be a very tight target, but I believe that it can be done with the full support of the Syrian government."
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad blamed delays on threats to chemicals being shipped across the war-divided nation, the BBC reported. Assad's regime is expected to send the stocks to Latakia, a coastal city where they are to be picked up by foreign transport ships for removal and destruction.
One of the two chemical deliveries to date "was intercepted by fire from terrorist groups," Mekdad said. "This is a serious business. Syria is in war, and the Americans and others have to take this into consideration."
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