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November 20, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Albania’s refusal to be the dustbin for Syrian chemical weapons

International observers did a double take when Albania said “no” to the U.S. request to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons supply. “What happens now?” is one question, but Albania’s refusal to its U.S. ally caused heads to turn as well.

As a prior blog post explained, Albania and the U.S. are close, and the country on the Adriatic Sea has bailed America out of some awkward diplomatic spots.

This looked like another opportunity. Albania even has experience cleaning up its own 16-ton chemical weapons arsenal, with U.S. technical and financial support, as explained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama turns down the U.S. request. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama turns down the U.S. request.
(AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

This time Albanians rallied to oppose the clean-up request, even as organizers made clear they respected and valued the friendship of the U.S.

The “what happens next?” phase is not clear. Belgium was on the short lists of candidates, and that country said no. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons, a Nobel Peace Prize winner this year, had a timetable for removal and disposal of the weapons from Syria. Reuters reports the U.S. still hopes to meet that schedule.

How this proceeds is unclear. There is great relief the weapons at 23 declared sites will be leaving the control of an unstable regime in Syria, and its volatile and deadly political environment.

One can hardly imagine this kind of toxic cargo bobbing around at sea as international leaders look for a disposal site. The United Nations signed on to help make the cleanup pact work. Maybe NATO has a suggestion.

Albania declared its independence. Sazan Guri of the Alliance Against Waste Imports said Albania should not be a “dustbin.” The point was stressed that protesters were against the weapons, not against America.

How indeed does the disposal of such lethal weapons occur? A report in Popular Science explains the process.

Comments | Topics: Albania, chemical weapons, Edi Rama

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