19 December 2013
OPCW: Multinational effort to remove chemical arms from Syria
The search for suitable vendors to assist in the commercial transport and destruction of Syrian chemical agents is due to begin on 20 December 2013, according to Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). He announced a multinational effort, that will require additional funding.
Mr. Üzümcü submitted in a plan to the OPCW’s Executive Council with the aim to transport the chemical agents to the Syrian port city of Latakia, where they will be shipped on commercial vessels provided by some member states. They will then be loaded onto a US ship and destroyed at sea using hydrolysis. In addition to a ship, the US is to supply 3,000 container drums, as well as the loading, transportation and decontamination equipment and GPS locators.
The Director-General confirmed that ‘the major elements of a transportation and destruction plan are in place’ and that the mission in Syria ‘is making progress against heavy odds.’ As a result of the security concerns, the Syrian government is responsible for the packing and safe transport of chemicals from the 12 storage sites to the port of Latakia and onto the maritime vessels. The government also ‘will implement a security and safety plan during movement of materials within the Syrian Arab Republic.’
Multiple states will contribute to this operation: Russia will provide large capacity and armoured trucks, water tanks and other logistical supplies; China will provide 10 ambulances and surveillance cameras; Finland has offered an emergency response team in case of accidents; Denmark and Norway are providing vessels and military escorts for the maritime transport of the chemicals, and subsequently for the transport of chemicals to be disposed of at commercial facilities; and Italy has decided to offer a port for the loading of the priority chemicals from the Danish-Norwegian vessel to the US ship.
The countries making these offers ‘in the interest of common good, assumed onerous responsibilities’, according to Mr. Üzümcü. The Joint Mission will facilitate and coordinate the arrangements, and will also obtain the necessary assurances and arrangements.
In addition, the Director-General thanked governments for making important financial contributions to the Special Trust Fund, but said more support will be needed for ‘the successful completion of this major task that lies ahead of us.’