UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that despite a delay in moving chemical weapons out of Syria, "safe and secure" transportation will be started "as soon as possible."
Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky issued a statement following the announcement made by the joint mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN earlier on Saturday that due to technical difficulties, there will be a limited delay in the transport of the first tranche of chemical agents from the Syria. These had been anticipated to be removed by Dec. 31.
"The Secretary-General stresses that the international effort to eliminate the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic continues to make effective progress, as demonstrated by the steady achievements in meeting all previous milestones in the past three months," the statement said.
Despite the delay, Ban said, the joint mission continues to work closely and intensively with the Syrian government and the assisting state parties to "begin safe and secure removal and transportation operations as soon as possible."
Under the UN Security Council resolution 2118, the OPCW is mandated to oversee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons.
The joint OPCW-UN mission was set up two months ago to achieve the timely removal in the safest and most secure manner possible. Since August, the OPCW staff have been in Syria to inspect and verify the country's chemical weapon stockpiles.
According to the organization, the deadline for elimination is June 30, 2014.
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