16 Nov 2013

Albania won't host destruction of chemical weapons

10:12 am on 16 November 2013

Albania has rejected a request from the United States to allow the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons on its soil.

The United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are deciding where to take the arsenal, after agreeing it should be destroyed outside Syria.

"It is impossible for Albania to get involved in this operation," said prime minister Edi Rama in a televised address on Friday.

The US embassy in Tirana said in a statement that it respected the government's decision.

The BBC reports a meeting of the OPCW's executive council in The Hague had been adjourned for several hours, awaiting Albania's decision.

Afterwards, the agency announced that it had approved a plan to transport Syria's chemical weapons stockpile outside its territory by no later than 5 February 2014, with all chemical materials to be destroyed by 30 June 2014.

No destination for the stockpile was mentioned in the statement. However, the BBC reports France and Belgium have been named as possible alternative locations for the destruction.

Syria has an estimated 1000 tonnes of chemical arms. Norway has pledged to send a civilian cargo ship and a navy frigate to Syrian ports to pick up the weapons and carry them elsewhere for destruction. However it lacks the expertise to carry out the task.