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Syria outlines chemical weapons program

11:35 AM, Sep 20, 2013   |    comments
Secretary of State John Kerry and Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans shake hands after they made statements to reporters about efforts to disarm Syria of their chemical weapons at the State Department in Washington. (Photo: Charles Dharapak, AP)
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Syria has sent the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons an "initial declaration" outlining its weapons program, the organization said Friday.

Spokesman Michael Luhan told The Associated Press that the declaration is "being reviewed by our verification division." The organization will not release details of what is in the declaration.

The OPCW, which polices the treaty outlawing chemical weapons, is looking at ways to fast-track moves to secure and destroy Syria's arsenal of poison gas and nerve agents as well as its production facilities.

However, diplomatic efforts to speed up the process are moving slowly. A meeting initially scheduled for Sunday at which the organization's 41-nation executive council was to have discussed a U.S.-Russian plan to swiftly rid Syria of chemical weapons was postponed Friday and no new date was immediately set. No reason was given for the postponement.

Under a U.S.-Russia agreement brokered last weekend in Geneva, inspectors are to be on the ground in Syria by November. During that month, they are to complete their initial assessment and all mixing and filling equipment for chemical weapons is to be destroyed.

All components of the chemical weapons program are to be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014.

Associated Press

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