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Syria Set to “Miss a Major Deadline” in Dismantling Chemical Weapons Arsenal, Again

Reuters last week revealed that “Syria will miss a major deadline next week” in the timeline describing how and when it is to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. Washington and Moscow had inked the deal as an alternative to impending Western air strikes aimed at punishing Damascus for crossing a red line, set publicly by President Barack Obama, against the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.

Syria declared 12 production facilities to the OPCW and has until March 15 to destroy them under a deal agreed with the United States and Russia. Damascus has already missed several deadlines laid out in the agreement.

“That will definitely be missed,” said an official involved in discussions with Syria, referring to the March 15 deadline. The official, who asked not to be identified, said there were seven “hardened” aircraft hangars and five underground facilities. “None of them have been destroyed at the moment,” the official said.

The Reuters report came a day after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power blasted Syria for dragging its feet on meeting its obligations.

Prospects for smooth implementation of the deal grew even dimmer last Friday, with NATO announcing that it would halt joint missions with the Russians aimed at securing and destroying Syrian chemical weapons.

Observers working to unpack the implications of the Crimean crisis had already worried that the spiraling tensions – which have pitted the West against Russia – would negatively impact efforts aimed at dampening violence in Syria. The White House had been criticized before and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for leaning too heavily on Russian President Vladimir Putin to assist in promoting a workable solution to Syria’s almost three-year-long war.

[Photo: Mavi Krizantem / YouTube]