Albania suddenly backs out of plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons
Environmentalists gathered on November 12th in the Albanian capital of Tirana to protest their country’s plan to accept chemical weapons from Syria.
In a surprise move announced Friday, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama rejected a request by the U.S. government to destroy a stockpile of nearly 1,300 metric tons of sarin and mustard gas as well as other chemical weapons agents seized in Syria. The staunch U.S. ally and NATO member was considered to be well-suited for the task because it was the first nation to completely and verifiably destroy all of its chemical weapons in 2007.
Under negotiations with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations, an agreement was close at hand for Albania to destroy the weapons, until popular peaceful protests erupted in the Albanian capital, Tirana. Prime Minister Rama, a former painter and mayor of the capital city of Tirana, addressed the nation and said it was “impossible for Albania to take part in this operation,” according to Reuters. “We lack the necessary capacities to get involved in this operation,” he said.
To destroy the weapons, Albania would need to build an expensive facility to process the toxic waste generated during the process. Diplomats from the U.S., Russia and the United Nations want to ensure that once chemical weapons are out of Syria, they will not fall into the hands of militants or end up for sale on international black markets.