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In First Step, Syria Outlines Chemical Weapons Program

NPR icon by Scott Neuman
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Saul Loeb

Syria has submitted the first details of its chemical arsenal to an international watchdog in the Netherlands that monitors compliance with agreements on such weapons.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, says it has received an "initial declaration" from Damascus outlining the extent of the Syrian program — a requirement under a U.S.-Russia deal "to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner."

Syria had a Saturday deadline to submit the declaration, which is meant to be a full listing of the chemical weapons it possesses.

Reuters quotes an OPCW spokesman on Friday as saying: "We have received part of the verification and we expect more."

A United Nations diplomat confirmed to Reuters that the paperwork had been submitted, commenting, "It's quite long ... and being translated."

The Associated Press reports that despite Syria's seeming compliance, the OPCW "is looking at ways to speed up efforts to secure and destroy Syria's arsenal of poison gas and nerve agents, as well as its production facilities."

Under the agreement, Syria's chemical weapons arsenal is to be destroyed by mid-2014.

The deal struck last week averted — at least temporarily — a possible U.S. military strike on Syria.

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