October 8, 2013 9:35:41 am
About 100 international experts will have to spend up to a year in Syria destroying its chemical weapons in a mission of unprecedented danger,UN leader Ban Ki-moon has said.
The mission will seek to conduct an operation the likes of which,quite simply,have never been tried before, Ban said on Monday,in a report to the UN Security Council obtained by AFP.
A joint United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission is to carry out the destruction of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical arms in line with a UN Security Council resolution passed on September 27.
Russia and the United States acted to disarm Syria after a chemical weapons attack near Damascus in August in which hundreds died.
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A small OPCW team is already in Syria to start the destruction of weapons production facilities. Ban recommended it be increased to about 100 experts who will stay for a maximum of one year.
The mission will have its headquarters in Damascus with a support base in Cyprus. Under the Russia-US plan,which has been approved by the OPCW and the Security Council,the chemical arms will be destroyed by mid-2014.
Ban highlighted the threat to the experts and civilians from the estimated 1,000 tonnes of sarin,mustard gas and other chemical horrors in the Syrian arsenal which will have to be moved as Assad’s forces battle oppositions rebels.
The arms are dangerous to handle,dangerous to transport and dangerous to destroy, Ban said.
My two highest priorities are the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program and the safety and security of joint mission personnel who have volunteered to perform this vital but dangerous task, he added.
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