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Norway rejects US on Syria arms destruction

26 October 2013, 09:06

Oslo - Norway on Friday declined a US request to destroy Syria's chemical weapons, with Foreign Minister Borge Brende saying it would not be feasible to do so.

"The reasons were the timeframe, technical facilities and other legal limitations," Brende said.

"We have agreed with the United States, which presented the proposal that Norway can contribute in other areas... Our focus is now to find other means of contributing to the process."

Brende said Norway could provide personnel and additional financial support to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the international watchdog charged with dismantling Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

The OPCW began its work earlier this month under a UN resolution that backed the deal brokered by the US and Syria-ally Russia, and agreed by Damascus, to eliminate all the weapons by mid-2014.

In September, UN inspectors reported that rockets containing the nerve gas sarin were used in a 21 August attack near Damascus, which the US said killed more than 1 400 people.

The US blamed the Syrian government and threatened a military intervention before the deal with Moscow.

Media reports suggested Norway was asked to destroy 50 tons of mustard gas and between 300 and 500 tons of chemicals that could be used to make the nerve gas sarin.

Brende, who took office earlier this month, declined to speculate on which other countries could take on the task, but said he believed the US was considering other options.

The deadline for the destruction of all chemical weapons production facilities is 1 November. Inspectors have visited 18 of the 23 disclosed sites in Syria and destroyed production equipment at most, the OPWC said.



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