(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Mission on Wednesday said although the June 30 deadline to rid Syria of its chemical weapons will not be met, she is hopeful that the job will be finished shortly thereafter.
"The deadline will not be met," she stressed, adding that "we have an indication from the Syrian authorities that immediately when the security conditions permit, removal (of the remaining 7.2 percent of chemical weapons) will happen soon," Kaag told reporters following a briefing to the Security Council.
Another positive indication, she added, is "we also spoke to countries with influence over the opposition parties to the conflict... to exercise their influence" so that the removal of the remaining chemicals can be done immediately.
"The urgency, the pressure to remove the remaining 7.2 percent is very, very critical. I'll be back in Damascus in the next few days to pursue that conversation with my team and counterparts... What is important is that all the materials are out of harm's way and the destruction can start as on as possible," she said.
Asked if Syria is in compliance with resolution 2118 on the elimination of its banned weapons, Kaag said "it is for the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council to determine that," as well as whether the mandate of the Joint Mission has been achieved.
She said the Mission will go through transition and configuration, explaining that "the nature of the work of the Mission is changing. We are reducing our footprint in Damascus because of the security conditions, but also, we need different types of people. The frequency of presence is changing as well." Asked if the delay is really because of the security conditions or Syria is stalling, she said a number of key member states have "confirmed that these concerns are legitimate ... reasonable," however it does not mean that additional delays could not be incurred.
On western intelligence claims that Syria did not declare all its banned weapons and that a lot of stockpile will remain in Syria even after her mission is over, Kaag said "it is quite common for states parties to submit an initial declaration that needs to be revised. We are doing that currently."