- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Pentagon on Thursday dismissed the Syrian government’s recent request for a 100-day extension to meet a U.N.-backed deadline for destroying the nation’s chemical weapons stocks, asserting that any further delays by Damascus would be “unacceptable.”

That U.N. resolution requires that Syria eliminate all of its chemical weapons and related equipment within the first half of 2014.

And under a plan backed by the U.S. and Russia — which represent opposing sides in Syria’s ground war — the Syria government is transport the materials to the port of Lattakia in the Mediterranean Sea just north of Lebanon. From there, European ships are to carry the materials to the U.S. cargo ship, the “Cape Ray,” which is presently docked more than 2,000 miles away at U.S. Naval Station Rota Spain.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Syria had successfully delivered a significant amount of mustard gas — one of the deadliest toxic agents within the Syrian chemical arsenal — to the port of Lattakia.

But Pentagon spokesman Steven Warren voiced frustration to reporters on Thursday about overall delays in the delivery of other materials to the port.

“We are calling on the Syrians to accelerate their movement of these chemical weapons,” Mr. Warren said, adding that Syria’s proposal last week that it be granted a 100-day extension to the U.N. plan was simply “unacceptable.”

“The Syrians have obligations that they need to live up to. These are international obligations,” Mr. Warren said. “They have to get those chemical weapons out of the country so that we can destroy them.”

If and when the materials finally reach Lattakia and are loaded onto the waiting European ships, the Cape Ray will sail to Gioia Tauro, Italy, where it will in turn load up all the chemical materials and destroy them using a field deployable hydrolysis system, Mr. Warren said.

Cape Ray will only be accepting one large shipment from the European cargo ships. To date, the Syrians have transported a total of four shipments of chemical weapons to Lattakia, Mr. Warren told The Washington Times.

The first three shipments were lower grade chemicals and the fourth shipment consisted of mustard sulfate.

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