A Danish-Norwegian flotilla is preparing to remove Syrian chemical weapons conducting emergency rescue drills off the southern coast of Cyprus.
Flotilla spokesman "Eystein Malkenes Kvarving" said that the four-ship group is carrying out drills, including firefighting and ship-to-ship transfers of injured personnel, adding that the ships would likely make more than one trip to Syria to pick up all the agents.
Kvarving said two cargo ships and their warship escorts are waiting at Cyprus’ Limassol port for word on when they can travel to Syria to begin hauling out more than 1,000 tons of chemical agents.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N said Saturday that a Dec. 31 deadline to remove the most toxic chemicals was unlikely to be met.
A joint U.N-OPCW statement said that pPreparations continue in readiness for the transport of most of the critical chemical material from the Syrian Arab Republic for outside destruction. However, at this stage, transportation of the most critical chemical material before 31 December is unlikely”.
Under an internationally agreed plan, the chemicals will be taken to a port in Italy where they are to be transported to a U.S Navy ship specially fitted with equipment to destroy the weapons at sea.