Denmark and Norway to transport chemical weapons out of Syria

Joint mission will “prevent further atrocities on the civilian population”

Denmark and Norway have agreed to transport chemical weapons out of Syria, the Defence Ministry announced today.

The joint operation will include naval frigates and cargo vessels contributed from both countries, with Denmark leading the maritime operation. 

According to a plan agreed upon by the United Nations Security Council, the most dangerous of the chemical weapons are to be removed from Syria by December 31. The Danish government decided last month to accept a UN request to provide protection and transport to the UN mission of dismantling Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. A final plan for the destruction of the weapons is to be reached by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on December 17, but the former development minister, Christian Friis Bach (R), told the press last month that the weapons would not be destroyed in Denmark.

In a joint statement, the Norwegian foreign minister, Børge Brende, and acting Danish foreign minister, Rasmus Helveg Petersen (R), said the combined mission was "a critical task". 

"Denmark and Norway are both fully committed to the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2118," the statement read. "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."

Petersen is filling in for Villy Søvndal, who is on medical leave. 

The defence minister, Nicolai Wammen (S), and his Norwegian counterpart, Ine Eriksen Søreide, called the mission "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," they said. "Both our countries have long experience in maritime operations and we are used to working together in other international operations and exercises."