“Chemical materials designated for destruction are slowly being transported for consolidation at the Syrian port of Latakia, and the United States is urging the Syrian government to accelerate this process”, Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Steven Warren told reporters.
The U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray has been specially fitted to accommodate destruction of the Syrian chemical materials, and it arrived Feb. 13 in Rota, Spain, to stand by for the mission.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arevealed recentlzy that the Syrian government had transported a fourth shipment of chemical materials to Latakia, Warren said. This shipment contained sulfur mustard, he added.
“Of note,” Warren said, “the materials in this shipment are the first which will ultimately be transloaded to the Cape Ray for follow-on destruction.”
The United States continues to urge the Syrian government to meet its obligation and accelerate efforts to deliver the entire declared stockpile to Latakia for transportation and destruction, Warren said. The plan for transloading the chemical weapons onto the Cape Ray, he added, further increase the need for Syria hasten its efforts.
“The plan is that there will be one transload onto the Cape Ray,” he said. “So we have to wait until all the chemicals are out of Syria and on the Danish or Norwegian ships. They’ll then be moved onto the Cape Ray … [and] then be destroyed. We are calling on the Syrians to accelerate their movement of these chemical weapons into the port of Latakia so we can get them all onto the Danish and Norwegian ships and transload them onto the Cape Ray.”
The Syrians, he noted, have obligations that they need to live up to. “These are international obligations, and I know they’ve submitted a plan for a 100-day long extension, and we find that unacceptable,” Warren said. “They have to live up to their obligation. They have to get those chemical weapons out of the country so we can destroy them.”
The DOD spokesman also provided observations on North Korean missile tests conducted yesterday, and the situation in Ukraine.
North Korea launched several short-range scud missiles late last night, Warren said. They impacted off North Korea’s east coast and didn’t appear to target anyone, he added.
“We view this as an unannounced weapons test we see somewhat regularly,” Warren said, noting two to four missiles were launched.
Meanwhile, Warren said, officials are monitoring developments in Ukraine closely. He affirmed America’s strong support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“We expect other nations to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and avoid provocative actions,” Warren said. “We expect Russia to be transparent about its activities, particularly its recently announced training exercise. We urge them not to take any steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculation during this delicate time.”