the republic logo

Syrian chemical destruction deadline should be met if Damascus ships them out by end of April

Share/Save/Bookmark

ROTA, Spain — If Syria can remove all its ingredients for making poison gas and nerve agent from the country by the end of the month, an ambitious June 30 deadline for destroying the chemicals should be met, a spokesman for the world's chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday.

It remains to be seen if Damascus can remove the chemicals by the end of April. It has taken months to ship out just over half of the 1,300-metric ton stockpile. Overland shipments through the civil war-torn country to the port of Latakia are only happening sporadically.

Under a timeline drawn up last year, the most toxic chemicals were to have been removed from the country by Dec. 31, but that deadline was missed due to poor security and other factors. Syria later submitted a new timeline.

"Right now we have got 17 days left according to the timetable that the Syrian government gave to the OPCW with which they committed to remove their chemical weapons," said Michael Luhan of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. "So if they are out at that time we are confident that the destruction activity can be completed in time to meet the June 30 deadline of the mission."

PHOTO: Marine officers of the Cape Ray, a ship equipped to neutralize Syrian chemicals, show chemical protection suits to reporters next to one of the field deployable hydrolysis systems, in a protective enclosure during a tour around the ship docked at the naval base of Rota used by the U.S, in Spain’s southwestern coast on Thursday, April 10, 2014. The American ship MV Cape Ray will collect and destroy mustard gas, raw materials for sarin nerve gas and tons of other highly toxic chemicals that form part of Syria’s chemical weapons program. If Syria can remove all its ingredients for making poison gas and nerve agent from the country by the end of the month, an ambitious June 30 deadline for destroying the chemicals should be met, a spokesman for the world's chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday. (AP Photo/Alfonso Perez)
Marine officers of the Cape Ray, a ship equipped to neutralize Syrian chemicals, show chemical protection suits to reporters next to one of the field deployable hydrolysis systems, in a protective enclosure during a tour around the ship docked at the naval base of Rota used by the U.S, in Spain’s southwestern coast on Thursday, April 10, 2014. The American ship MV Cape Ray will collect and destroy mustard gas, raw materials for sarin nerve gas and tons of other highly toxic chemicals that form part of Syria’s chemical weapons program. If Syria can remove all its ingredients for making poison gas and nerve agent from the country by the end of the month, an ambitious June 30 deadline for destroying the chemicals should be met, a spokesman for the world's chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday. (AP Photo/Alfonso Perez)

Luhan was speaking in the Spanish port of Rota, where U.S. authorities showed reporters around a ship, the Cape Ray, equipped to neutralize Syrian chemicals.

The Cape Ray's crew will treat the most toxic material, monitored day and night by OPCW experts. The waste will then be destroyed on land.

A senior American officer stressed that the Cape Ray will not release any chemical waste into the Mediterranean.

Rear Adm. Robert Burke of the U.S. 6th Fleet said the process is designed to ensure no waste escapes.

"The entire unit is self-contained. There are layers of environmental controls that protect the air whilst we are handling the materials on board the ship," he said. "And then the entire process is contained in tanks within the ship, within those environmental controls. So layer upon layer of containment."

Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!

All comments are moderated before posting. Your email address must be verified with Disqus in order for your comment to appear.
View our commenting guidelines and FAQ's here.

Story copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Feedback, Corrections and Other Requests: AP welcomes feedback and comments from readers. Send an email to info@ap.org and it will be forwarded to the appropriate editor or reporter.


We also have more stories about:
(click the phrases to see a list)

Category:

Follow The Republic:

All content copyright ©2014 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved. Privacy policy.