- POSTED: 20 Sep 2013 23:23
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The world's chemical weapons watchdog has received initial details on Syria's programme and arsenal, which it has been tasked with dismantling, it said on Friday.
THE HAGUE: The world's chemical weapons watchdog has received initial details on Syria's programme and arsenal, which it has been tasked with dismantling, it said on Friday.
"The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons programme," the Hague-based body said in a statement.
A United Nations diplomat said the OPCW had received the Syrian declaration on Thursday.
"It is quite lengthy," the diplomat said.
The OPCW's Technical Secretariat is now examining the details, which Syria handed over as part of a Russian-US plan to avert US-led military strikes on Syria, blamed by the West for a deadly chemical weapons attack in August.
The watchdog, which enforces the Chemical Weapons Convention that Syria has applied to join, has repeatedly postponed a meeting of its Executive Council to discuss the practicalities of how to dispose of Syria's chemical weapons.
A new date for the meeting has not yet been set.
Diplomatic sources said that a draft text to be discussed at the meeting had not yet been agreed upon by the United States and Russia.
The Hague-based OPCW's 41-member Executive Council is expected to discuss the plan agreed last weekend in Geneva and Syria's application to join the CWC amid growing Western calls for military action against Damascus.
Its Executive Council is made up of ambassadors from different nations with diplomatic representations in The Hague.
Russia backs the Damascus government in blaming opposition rebels for the August 21 poison gas attack near the Syrian capital in which hundreds of people died.
The US-Russian plan says that President Bashar al-Assad's regime will hand over a list of its chemical weapons and facilities, and that all will be destroyed by mid-2014.
However, a defiant Assad said in an interview on Wednesday that the task would take at least a year and cost a billion dollars.