U.S. tells Syria to take immediate steps to remove chemical weapons

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:17pm EST

WASHINGTON Jan 30 (Reuters) - The United States told Syria on Thursday to take immediate actions to comply with a U.N. resolution to remove its chemical weapons materials saying demands by Damascus for additional equipment were "without merit" and delays were adding to costs.

A statement by the United States to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the world's chemicals weapons watchdog in The Hague, said just 4 percent of the chemicals declared by Syria had been removed.

"Syria has said that its delay in transporting these chemicals has been caused by 'security concerns' and insisted on additional equipment - armored jackets for shipping containers, electronic countermeasures, and detectors for improvised explosive devices," U.S. representative to the OPCW Robert Mikulak said in the statement to the OPCW's executive council.

"These demands are without merit, and display a 'bargaining mentality' rather than a security mentality," he added. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by James Dalgleish)