Newscast Media PORTSMOUTH, Virginia—Some 64 U.S. Army specialists are expected
to depart for the Mediterranean in about two weeks aboard an American-owned ship,
the Cape Ray, to destroy chemical weapons from Syria.
The nearly 200-meter-long ship, now in Portsmouth, will travel to a yet-to-be
specified location in the Mediterranean, where it will take on about 700 metric tons of
both mustard gas and “DF compound,” a component of the chemical weapon sarin
gas. Specialists will use two new, recently installed “field-deployable hydrolysis
systems” to neutralize the chemicals.
It’s expected the weapons destruction will take about 90 days. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media THE HAGUE—Syria has completed the destruction of all of its
chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, the Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said on Thursday.
The OPCW, on a joint mission in Syria with the United Nations, confirmed that Syria
had destroyed critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production
facilities and plants.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the OPCW said Syria had met the deadline set by
the OPCW Executive Council to “complete as soon as possible and in any case not
later than November 1, 2013, the destruction of chemical weapons production
equipments, including mixing and filling equipment.”
A group of eight inspectors, who had been conducting verification work in Damascus
since Oct. 1, returned to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague.
The OPCW said it had inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the
41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were too dangerous to
visit, but according to Syria, the chemical weapons equipment at these sites were
moved to other declared sites, which were inspected.
The next deadline is Nov. 15 when the UN Executive Council is to adopt a detailed
plan of destruction submitted by Syria to destroy the country’s more than 1,000 tons
of chemical weapons by mid-2014.
Newscast Media COPENHAGEN—Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Friday his country rejects any partial reports by the UN Secretariat before the completion of the mission of the UN chemical weapons investigation team, state-run SANA news agency reported.
The minister said so during a phone call with UN chief Ban Ki- moon on Friday, a day after the UN said the chemical investigators, currently operative on ground, would leave Syria on Saturday. Syria rejects any partial reports before the completion of the mission and the completion of the laboratorial tests of the samples assembled by the team, al-Moallem said.
According to SANA, the foreign minister asked Ban about the reasons behind the abruptness of the UN team’s mission, urging him to stick to even handedness. He also stressed that any aggression against Syria would “blow up all of the exerted efforts to politically solve the Syrian crisis.”
He further requested that the UN team should also investigate the sites where the government accused the rebels of using nerve agents against troops and civilians. The UN team did not investigate all reported instances of chemical weapons’ use, but its officials promised to return to Syria after submitting the result of their primary investigation.
The investigation team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, has been carrying out its work without incidents after a pause last Tuesday, when its convoy was attacked by snipers while heading to Damascus’ eastern suburb of Ghouta, where chemical weapons were allegedly used on Aug. 21.
The alleged incident opened the appetite of Washington to militarily intervene in Syria to “punish” President Bashar al- Assad even before the submission of the investigation’s results.