Ban says Syrian chemical weapons destruction back on schedule

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that despite delays, the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons is now back on schedule.

Ban made the statement on Friday during his first press conference of the year. When asked about the June 30 deadline to remove and destroy all of Syria's chemical weapons, Ban said progress was made toward the end goal of destroying the chemical arsenal. He said that despite the delay, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-U.N. Joint Mission in Syria was back on schedule for its June 30 goal.

"I met the joint special coordinator of the joint mission, Sigrid Kaag, earlier this week, and she briefed me about further progress that has been made towards the removal and elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program," Ban said. "As you know, the first quantity of priority chemical weapons and materials has been shipped out of Latakia port, and this process will continue. Even though there was a bit of delay in our programme, I think everything is now moving on schedule."

Ban noted the June 30 deadline was very tight because of the continuing violence in Syria. He said the joint mission would work day and night to meet the deadline and the U.N. would provide full support to the mission.

Ban also thanked the countries providing logistical support through the provision of ships, transportation and naval escorts.