Syria to meet key chemical arms deadline: UN

Syria to meet key chemical arms deadline: UN

UNITED STATES - Syria is on target to meet a looming deadline to destroy its chemical weapons production equipment, even though inspectors have yet to visit all sites, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Monday.

"The functional destruction of the declared capacity of the Syrian Arab Republic is expected to be completed as planned by November 1," Ban said in a report to the UN Security Council obtained by AFP.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN have however only been to 21 of the 23 sites declared by President Bashar al-Assad's government because of the country's conflict.

Destruction of the chemical production and mixing facilities is the first major deadline of a tight timetable set out by the Security Council to eliminate all of Syria's chemical weapons by June 30 next year.

Syria still has an estimated 1,000 tonnes of chemicals to be destroyed and no plan has yet been agreed for the risky operation, officials said.

The inspectors have "confirmed the functional destruction of the production and mixing and filling capabilities at all the sites" inspected so far, Ban said.

The UN leader stressed that the deadline should be met "a mere" 34 days after the 15-nation Security Council ordered the destruction of all of Syria's chemical weapons.

"In all of these activities the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has extended consistent, constructive cooperation," Ban said.

There are 22 OPCW experts and about 50 UN staff supervising the destruction programme so far, the UN report said.

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