Topic: Protests in Syria
YALTA, September 20 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian experts and equipment could play a role in the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons, the ex-Soviet nation’s leader said Friday.
“We offer the participation of Ukrainian specialists and equipment to destroy chemical weapons in Syria,” President Viktor Yanukovych said at a forum in the southern Ukrainian port of Yalta. “We have the experience and mobile plants that have been patented in Ukraine and have proved their effectiveness in practice, and we are ready to use them to destroy [Syrian] chemical weapons as soon as possible.”
A Moscow-based arms expert said that Ukraine does have experts on chemical weapons, but expressed doubt that its equipment is capable of processing the Syrian stockpile within the timetable set out by the US-Russian deal.
“They have experts because they inherited part of the Soviet chemical weapons,” Alexander Golts told RIA Novosti.
But “we’re talking about 1,000 tons of chemical weapons; no mobile plant can process such a lot of chemical weapons within that timetable,” he said. “Or there would have to be dozens [of the units].”
The Syrian government’s entire chemical arsenal is due to be placed under international control by November and destroyed by mid-2014 under the terms of the ambitious US-Russian agreement that was reached Saturday after days of intense talks and signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry.
Under the Lavrov-Kerry deal, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will work out a plan for Syria’s chemical weapons and the plan will be enforced via a UN Security Council resolution.
Ukraine is not the first ex-Soviet nation to volunteer to participate in the destruction of the Syrian chemical arsenal.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday that Moscow is ready to help eliminate Syrian chemical weapons provided the international community agrees. If Russia is assigned a role in transporting or eliminating such weapons, “naturally, Russia will participate,” Shoigu said, adding that Russia possessed facilities for destroying such weapons.
Syrian President Bashar Assad pledged on Wednesday to destroy his chemical arsenal, saying in an interview with American broadcaster Fox News that the process would take about a year.
UN inspectors said Monday that they had found “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used in an August 21 attack that killed hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
The inspectors had no mandate to determine who had launched the attack, which the United States and some of its Western allies have attributed to the Assad regime, but which Moscow and Syria have called a provocation by anti-Assad rebels, who have been locked in conflict with government forces since March 2011.
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