2d chemical weapons team heading for Syria

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog said Tuesday that the organization is sending a second team of inspectors to Syria to expand its high-stakes, high-risk mission to rid Syria of its poison gas stockpile.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, spoke to the group’s 41-nation Executive Council at the start of a four-day meeting in The Hague. The organization’s inspectors are in Syria to verify and destroy the country’s estimated 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, in the midst of a two-year civil war.


Uzumcu called initial Syrian cooperation with the team last week — providing more details of the country’s chemical weapons and beginning to destroy them and facilities to produce them — ‘‘a constructive beginning for what will nonetheless be a long and difficult process,’’ according to an organization statement.

Syria also highlighted the inspectors’ work in video broadcast on state television late Monday showing their activity for the first time.

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The inspectors were shown touring what appeared to be a chemical plant and a storage facility.

The inspectors could be seen taking photographs of the facility in the piece that aired during the official Syrian television station’s prime-time news program. The location of the plant was not disclosed.

An advance team of 35 organization and UN staff members traveled to Damascus last week. Some organization staff members have already returned to its headquarters to report on their talks with officials from President Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus.


Uzumcu said he will soon sign an agreement between the organization and the UN to provide security and logistics to the inspection teams.

In Damascus, ruling Baath party lawmaker Walid al-Zoubi said the chemical weapons ‘‘have become a heavy burden on the state and are not a strategic defensive stock anymore’’ and the nation is ready to dispose of them.

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