State Department

U.S. Considering Alternatives to Eliminate Syria's Chemical Weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry announced the search for options on Monday after Albania refused to destroy the weapons inside their country. By Global Security Newswire

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said Washington is considering two possible alternatives for carrying out a Syrian chemical-weapons elimination effort that multiple European powers have refused to host, Reuters reported.

The possible plans would "provide us the complete capacity to do the destruction and to meet the schedule" for the stockpile's full elimination by June 30, Kerry told reporters. He provided no specifics on the plans themselves, and did not identify any nation potentially open to allowing destruction of the materials on its territory.

He spoke after Albania rejected calls to accommodate the destruction of Syrian chemical-warfare assets within its borders. Belgium on Monday also ruled out serving such a role. A number of European leaders this week are calling for the Syrian stocks to instead be eliminated inside the Middle East nation itself, despite an ongoing civil war that risks imperiling the project.

The fast-track push to rid the Syrian government of its chemical weapons began after Syrian President Bashar Assad admitted in September that his country possessed such arms and agreed to their destruction. Those moves came weeks after a nerve-gas attack on civilians just outside Damascus spurred international condemnation and Washington threatened to carry out a military strike.

(Read more: Destroying Chemical Weapons is Really Expensive)

The Assad regime's top envoy to Moscow reaffirmed prior Syrian-government warnings that rebel forces could slow down the destruction project, the Voice of Russia reported on Tuesday.

Foreign governments "are not providing resources needed to implement the U.N. Security Council's resolution in Syria's chemical disarmament," Ambassador Riyad Haddad said in comments to Russia's state-run Interfax news agency.

The prospect of moving chemical-warfare materials across Syrian battlegrounds has raised separate concerns in Washington, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

"No one has attempted this before in a civil war, and no one is willing to put troops on the ground to protect this stuff, including us,” one high-level U.S. official told the newspaper.