Denmark and Norway have agreed to take part in a joint mission to transport chemical weapons out of Syria as part of an international deal which was brokered to avert U.S. missile strikes on Syrian forces.
Both countries will provide naval frigates and specialist cargo vessels. Denmark will lead the maritime operation and Norway will act as deputy commander.
Under the deal worked out between the U.S. and Russian governments, and agreed by the UN Security Council, the most dangerous of Syria’s chemical weapons will be removed by the end of December. They will be shipped out from the main Syrian port of Latakia and transferred to a U.S vessel. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will work out the final plan for the destruction of the stockpile when they meet on the 17th December.
The Syrian forces are thought to have 1,300 tonnes of sarin, mustard gas and other lethal agents. The sheer size of the stockpile means that the only feasible methods of transport are by land or sea.
In a joint statement the Norwegian foreign minister, Børge Brende, and acting Danish foreign minister, Rasmus Helveg Petersen, said:
“Denmark and Norway are both fully committed to the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2118.
“Our governments have already offered significant assistance to the joint OPCW-UN mission – both military and financially. We are now planning for a joint naval operation to ensure transportation of chemical weapons out of Syria.”
Danish defence minister, Nicolai Wammen and his Norwegian counterpart, Ine Eriksen Søreide, said that the mission was “an excellent example of Nordic co-operation”.
“We welcome the possibility for Denmark and Norway to contribute to the important mission of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons in order to prevent further atrocities on the civilian population,”
“Both our countries have long experience in maritime operations and we are used to working together in other international operations and exercises.”
Last month the Danish government decided to accept a request from the UN Security Council to assist in the operation to dismantle and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons by providing protection and transport for the mission.
At that time Nicolai Wammen said that Denmark would:
“…give very strong support to ensuring that the Syrian regime can never again use chemical weapons against civilians, children and innocent people.”