TIME Syria

Almost All of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Have Now Been Removed

German Company To Destroy Syrian Chemical Weapons
A worker stands next to a machine that will be used to destroy chemical weapons from Syria during a press day at the GEKA facility on March 5, 2014 in Munster, Germany. GEKA is federally-funded and its sole function is the destruction of chemical weapons from military arsenals. Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons last August and disposal, which is already underway on an American ship in the Mediterranean, is scheduled to be completed by June. Nigel Treblin—Getty Images

President Obama says the removal of 87% of Syria's chemical arsenal can be credited to U.S. leadership, even as Syrian opposition groups claim forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had used chlorine gas in several attacks last month

Syria is close to having shipped out all of its chemical weapons, U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday.

“Eighty-seven percent of Syria’s chemical weapons have already been removed, ” Obama said, speaking at a joint press conference in Tokyo, where he is on a state visit.

“That is a consequence of U.S. leadership. The fact that we didn’t have to fire a missile to get that accomplished is not a failure to uphold international norms, it’s a success,” the President said, stressing that it’s not a “complete success until we have the last 13% out.”

Obama’s remarks followed Tuesday’s statement from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the group monitoring the destruction of the stockpile of chemical weapons, which said that the June 30 deadline for the complete removal of chemical weapons was within reach.

“We hope that the remaining two or three consignments are delivered quickly to permit destruction operations to get underway in time to meet the mid-year deadline for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons,” H.E. Mr. Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of OPCW, said.

The U.S. President’s comments also come after accusations by Syrian opposition groups that the Assad regime used chlorine gas against civilians in several attacks the last month. American, British and French government officials have said that there are “strong indications” of gas having been used.

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