Last updated: 7 November, 2013

US looks to allies to destroy Syrian chemical arms

Washington has contacted several of its allies, including Belgium and France, for possible help in destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal, a Belgian foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday.

“The Americans held an exploratory working brief in early October with Belgium, Norway, France and Albania to see what capacities each might have to treat chemical weapons,” the spokesman told AFP.

“There was no formal request, it was more making contact to ask a country about its scope of options,” he added.

Under UN Security Council Resolution 2118 passed in September, Syria’s entire chemical arsenal, estimated at about 1,000 tonnes, is to be destroyed by June 30.

Late last month, Norway ruled out accommodating a US request to help destroy the arms on its soil, saying the schedule was too tight.

The massive destruction operation, agreed after a chemical attack against a Damascus suburb in August left hundreds dead, is being supervised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The OPCW, which is currently inspecting chemical weapons’ production and storage sites in Syria, is due to adopt a roadmap for their destruction by November 15.

“That is when international assistance will be necessary and this is why the United States is contacting its allies, and not just the initial four,” the foreign ministry spokesman said.