Russia said Tuesday the Syrian government was poised to ship out a large stockpile of chemical weapons before the end of the month and downplayed concerns Damascus was falling behind schedule.
“I would not dramatise the disarmament issue,” deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov told RIA Novosti.
“Literally yesterday the Syrians announced that they are planning to move out a large amount of chemical substances in February,” added Gatilov.
“They are ready to complete this process by March 1, in accordance with the deadlines set by the OPCW (Organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons),” he insisted.
Syria has faced mounting criticism for falling behind in the timetable on removing its chemical weapons stockpile that was agreed in September by the United States and Russia.
The US government said only two small shipments of chemicals worth about four percent of the country’s declared arsenal has left the Syrian port of Latakia so far, far below the 700 tonnes that the country was supposed to dispose of by the end of 2013.
Gatilov however denied that Syria is going back on its obligations, explaining the delay by unforeseen circumstances and security issues.
“Many nuances were not known before, so it is quite logical that there are changes,” he said.
“As far as the deadlines, everything is going rather well,” he said.
“There are difficulties that have to do with the need to ensure the security of this operation.”