Another deadline in the removal of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile from the country came and went on Wednesday without much progress. According to timelines set by the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, more than 90 percent of the arsenal should have been surrendered by now, but the actual amount shipped still hovers around 5 percent.
Of the estimated 1300 tons of chemical weapons, 700 tons should have made it to the port of Latakia by the end of 2013. Another 500 tons of "category two" chemicals should have made it to the port by this past Wednesday.
Syrian officials cited a number of safety concerns as the reason for the delay and also requested additional equipment for the transport. Those requests include armored troop carriers and armored casing for the shipping containers carrying the dangerous chemicals.
"We are now getting indications there will be a target date, specifically, to meet it," In Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with CNN, "that they're accelerating, that they understand the world is really watching this."
Kerry was confident that international pressure would compel the Syrian government to act. British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament, "Britain will continue to put pressure on all parties to make sure the chemical weapons are produced and destroyed."
Assad's allies in Russia, on the other hand, thought the delay was really no big deal. "I would not dramatise the disarmament issue," said Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
The next major deadline is March 31, when the most toxic chemicals are supposed to have been destroyed at sea aboard a U.S. ship. The entire timeline was supposed to have been completed by the end of June.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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