U.S. offers to destroy Syria's chemical weapons in international waters
The U.S. government has offered to assist in the destruction of Syria's deadly chemical weapons in international waters aboard a huge U.S. owned ship, officials told The Associated Press late Wednesday.
The offer - which is still waiting approval - would involve the destruction of chemical weapons aboard the MV Cape Ray in the Mediterranean Sea, with U.S. Navy warships patrolling nearby, AP reported.
The destruction of chemical weapons in international waters would solve the environmental, diplomatic and security problems posed by disposing of them on any nation's soil.
The decision to go ahead with the Obama administration's plan to destroy the weapons would have to be made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a international chemical weapons watchdog that has 190 member states, according to AP.
In a statement issued Wednesday, OPCW said the effort to ship Syria’s chemical arsenal out of the country “continues to pose challenges due to the security situation on the ground," AP reported.
As no country has yet fully committed to disposing of the Syrian chemical weapons on its soil, the U.S. offer of international waters is likely to be approved.
The officials who disclosed aspects of the plan spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it to the press.
Jonathan Lalley, a spokesman for the president’s National Security Council, reiterated Wednesday that no decision had yet been made over the destruction of the chemical weapons outside Syria.
“We and our international partners are pursuing alternative means of destruction, and we will continue discussing with other countries how they might best contribute to that effort,” Lalley said in a statement, AP reported.“We remain confident that we will complete elimination of the program within the milestones agreed upon.”
During its time in office, the Obama administration has often offered up the use of international waters in other sensitive cases were land-based options were difficult, such as when the U.S. Navy buried the body of dead Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden at sea to avoid his tomb becoming an gathering spot for extremists. Since the CIA closed its secret "black site" prisons overseas and U.S. President Obama put restrictions on the use of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, the government has also used Navy ships to question suspected terrorists.
The MV Cape Ray would host the destruction of some of the deadliest of Syria’s chemical materials using a process developed by the Pentagon but never employed in an actual operation, according to AP.