U.S. exploring options for destroying Syria chemical weapons -Kerry

by Reuters
Monday, 18 November 2013 22:39 GMT

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The United States and allies are exploring two options for destroying Syria's chemicals weapons, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday after Albania rejected a request to host the destruction process.

Kerry dismissed reports that a plan to eliminate the weapons was off-track, saying the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had until the end of the year to remove the chemical weapons from Syria.

Asked whether the process had stalled after no country had agreed to take them, Kerry told a news conference: "We are on target. Now, one country or another may have examined the question of taking those weapons under their jurisdiction in order to destroy them. We are not without other alternatives.

"In fact, we are actively pursuing two other alternatives which provide us the complete capacity to do the destruction and to meet the schedule," he added.

He did not identify those options and which countries were willing to take the chemical weapons.

Albania, facing protests at home from groups complaining the Adriatic country and NATO member was being exploited by the West, said last week it was impossible to get involved in the operation. The plan seeks to destroy about 1,300 tonnes of Syria's sarin, mustard gas and other agents.

Faced with the threat of U.S. missile strikes, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed in September to give up his country's chemicals weapons stockpile following a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people outside the capital Damascus.

A plan adopted by the OPCW in The Hague on Friday called for the most critical chemicals to be transported out of Syria by Dec. 31 and destroyed between Dec. 15 and March 15. All other declared chemical materials would be eliminated by June 30. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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