U.S. still tracking toward June for destruction of Syrian arsenal

Despite weather and security concerns, the U.S. is still tracking the original June 30 deadline for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson for the State Department, made the remarks on Thursday during her daily press briefing. Harf responded to a question about Syria missing its deadline for moving certain chemicals to a Syrian port city on the way to destruction at sea. She said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N. cited security and weather concerns for the delay.

"It's up to the (regime of Bashar al-Assad)... to provide security for them to get the chemicals to the port," Harf said. "So this is - the onus is on them. They've committed to this and they need to do it. Weather, obviously, I'm not a expert on the weather. But obviously, I think there are probably good days and bad days. And I know it's winter and things are hard, but they need to take steps to get this done."

Harf reiterated that the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission previously destroyed all unfilled munitions that were declared, which would keep Syria from weaponizing the chemicals it still has. She pointed out that the deadlines were always ambitious milestones and that all forward progress in the situation is positive.

Harf also praised China, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the U.K. and other countries for providing international support in the effort to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.