November 18, 2013 8:43 am

Belgium rules itself out as candidate to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons

In This Oct. 9, 2013 photo, Director General Ahmet Uzumcu of the world's chemical watchdog OPCW gives an update on the the chemical watchdog's verification and destruction mission in Syria during a press conference in The Hague.

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Belgium has ruled itself out as a candidate to destroy Syria’s poison gas stockpile and says it would prefer the arsenal to be eradicated close to Syria itself.

Defence Minister Pieter De Crem said Monday that “the movement of those weapons is a tough enough task in itself” and crossed out Belgium as a possible destination.

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After Albania refused to take on the task Friday, Belgium had been considered a possible candidate, if only because it has a long history of destroying the gas arsenal from World War I.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has adopted a plan to destroy Damascus’s estimated 1,300-ton arsenal, which includes mustard gas and sarin, outside Syria, but has yet to find a country willing to host the risky operation.

© The Associated Press, 2013

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