x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Norway rejects US request to destroy Syrian chemical weapons

OSLO // Norway rejected a US request to help destroy Syria’s chemical arms, arguing that the Scandinavian nation was an unsuitable site because it lacked suitable staff, equipment and regulations.

Washington asked Nato-member Norway last month to help destroy some of Syria’s chemical arsenal in a deal brokered with Moscow after an August 21 attack in the suburbs of Damascus killed 1,400 people. Several other nations are also being asked.

The Norwegian foreign ministry said the country had given “serious and thorough consideration” to the US request but it was not best suited “due to time constraints and external factors, such as capacities, regulatory requirements”.

“The two nations have come to the joint understanding that Norway is not the most suitable location for this destruction,” a statement said.

On Wednesday, new foreign minister Boerge Brende said that Norway lacked equipment and that Norwegian law would ban storage of the waste.

That meant other countries would first have to guarantee to import and store the destroyed chemicals after they were treated in Norway, he said. Norway could use a US mobile destruction unit but winter cold could be a disadvantage, he said.

* Reuters