Norway to assist in destruction of Syrian chemical weapons

Norway will play a major part in removing chemical weapons from Syria and transporting them to sea for destruction, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Canberra, Australia, said on Friday.

Norway will provide MV Taiko, a civilian cargo ship, to transport the chemical arsenal and KNM Helge Ingstad, a frigate, to act as an escort. The country will also provide a military unit to protect the cargo ship, the second-in-command of the Norwegian-Danish joint multinational operation, and a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear team.

Denmark, which is leading the joint operation, will make an equivalent contribution to the mission. Finland will provide the mission with chemical weapons emergency response capability.

U.N. Security Council resolution 2118 and decisions by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' Executive Council form the basis for Norway's contributions. On December 11, the U.N. formally requested Denmark and Norway to help with the removal and maritime transport of the weapons from Syria. Syria will officially own the weapons until they are destroyed.

According to the resolution, all of Syria's chemical weapons are to be destroyed in the first half of 2014. Most of the critical chemical material was to be transported out of Syria by December 31 with the rest of the chemical weapons to be transported out of Syria by February 5. Certain developments in Syria caused adjustments to the deadlines.