Part of Syrian chemical weapons likely to be removed to Albania for destruction - newspaper

The U.S. is continuing negotiations with several countries that could admit Syrian chemical weapons to their territory for their destruction, Kommersant reported.

The U.S. is continuing negotiations with several countries that could admit Syrian chemical weapons to their territory for their destruction, Kommersant reported.

"There are reasons to presume that the suitable site will be found within the next few days. This is likely to be Albania," a Russian diplomatic source told Kommersant.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported on Thursday that Syria had completed "the destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable."

Hence, Kommersant says, the first phase of the program of destroying the Syrian chemical arsenals was finished by the planned date, i.e. November 1.

The OPCW is supposed to endorse an action plan for the second phase, during which the 1,300 tonnes of warfare agents possessed by Syria is to be destroyed, by November 15.

The OPCW told Kommersant earlier that its inspectors had sealed all warehouses where chemical weapons and their components had been stored in Syria.

OPCW experts are sure that all these arsenals cannot be destroyed on Syrian territory because of the ongoing hostilities. Damascus said it did not object to removing the chemical weapons abroad, on condition that they are not passed to the U.S.

In experts' view, Albania is unlikely to refuse the U.S.' proposal on the matter, Kommersant said.

"Surely, Albania's infrastructure is poorly developed compared to its neighbors, and there are questions about its government efficiency, but, unlike the European Union countries, it may have stronger incentives, including material ones, to admit toxic agents to its territory. And besides, Albania has a good record of international cooperation, as the country's authorities completed the first process of full chemical disarmament in history with Germany's, Switzerland's and the U.S.' assistance six years ago," Andrei Baklitsky of PIR Center told Interfax.

Kommersant recalled that Albania in 2007 had destroyed about 16 tonnes of mustard gas and other warfare agents it accumulated during dictator Enver Hoxha's rule.

The U.S. bulletin Global Security Newswire had also reported on Thursday with reference to U.S. sources that the Syrian chemical weapons could be removed to Albania for destruction. It said another country, likely Belgium or France, could also take part in this process along with Albania.

At the same time, Kommersant says Russia will also be involved in the process, as military specialists from several countries, including Russia, will be helping Damascus to safely destroy chemical weapons on Syrian territory. Servicemen from the Russian Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection Forces should be dispatched to Syria to this end.

Kommersant's diplomatic source suggested that Russia might also provide transport vehicles for removing Syrian chemical weapons abroad, and Moscow is prepared to allocate about $2 billion for this purpose. Dozens of other countries will also provide identical amounts of money, the newspaper said.

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