OPCW: U.S. to destroy Syria's deadliest chemical weapons at sea
The U.S. will destroy the most dangerous of Syria's chemical weapon arsenal aboard a navy vessel at sea, the world's chemical weapons watchdog said on Saturday.
“The neutralization operations will be conducted on a U.S. vessel at sea using hydrolysis,” the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said in a statement, according to Agence France Presse.
“Currently a suitable naval vessel is undergoing modifications to support the operations and to accommodate verification activities by the OPCW,” The Hague-based watchdog said in the statement.
The naval operation will destroy what is referred to as “priority chemical weapons,” the most dangerous of Syria’s total arsenal and ones that have to be out of the country by Dec. 31 under an international deal agreed to avert Western led military strikes on Damascus, AFP reported.
Michael Luhan, OPCW spokesman, on declined to name the U.S. navy vessel that will be used in the operation.
OPCW member states have been trying to formulate a strategy as to how to destroy Damascus's chemical weapons ahead of the group's annual meeting, which is due to meet Monday.
The final details for the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal -- on land or at sea -- is due to be approved by Dec.17, according to AFP.
Sigrid Kaag, the top U.N. official from the joint U.N.-OPCW mission, confirmed on Saturday that a U.S. ship will be used in the destruction process, adding that Syria's most toxic chemical weapons will be rendered unusable through a process hydrolysis, and said the resulting byproducts would be destroyed by commercial companies, AFP reported.
“The chemical effluents, what is left when destroyed, will be treated in countries through a number of companies,” she told reporters in Damascus, according to AFP.
The U.S. vessel “will not be in Syrian territorial waters,” she noted.
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