U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Syria will miss an end-of-June goal for eliminating its chemical arsenal, the Associated Press reports.
President Bashar Assad's regime has yet to relinquish more than 7 percent of its declared chemical-warfare stockpile, Ban told the U.N. Security Council in a communication quoted by AP on Thursday. The government last year agreed to surrender more than 1,300 metric tons of warfare chemicals, after an August nerve-agent assault prompted threats of an international military response.
The U.N. chief's May 23 statement marked his first written acknowledgement that the destruction effort would drag into July, the New York Times reported on Wednesday. Damascus insists it did not carry out the Aug. 21 sarin attack, but pledged to relinquish its chemical warfare stocks in time to allow for their full elimination in the first half of 2014.
Roughly 100 metric tons of the materials remain near Damascus, though, at a location the government says it has not secured, AP reported.
The U.N. chief said Syria's regime has "serious concerns about the safety and security" of any further shipments to the coastal city of Latakia, where foreign cargo ships have picked up warfare chemicals for destruction at international locations.
"It is imperative that [Syria] concludes remaining removal operations as quickly as possible," Ban said. "However, it is now evident that some activities ... will continue beyond June 30."
Possible next steps may come up for discussion next week, when the U.N. Security Council is set to receive an update from Sigrid Kaag, special coordinator of an international operation overseeing the disarmament effort.
Ban said Assad's regime is still in talks with international authorities on how to eliminate a dozen of its former chemical-arms factories, as well as a related housing structure and loading system. The U.N. chief added he looked forward to findings from a probe into alleged chlorine-gas strikes in Syria.