19 February 2014
Russia and NATO plan joint operation to protect US vessel carrying Syria’s chemical weapons
According to Reuters, Russia and NATO are drawing up plans for an exceptional joint naval operation in the Mediterranean to protect the United States (US) ship that will destroy Syria’s deadliest chemical weapons at sea.
A source at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and several NATO sources in Brussels confirmed that a joint operation to guard the ‘Cape Ray’ is under discussion. Under the plan being discussed, NATO and Russian warships would share the task of protecting the Cape Ray, a US cargo ship that will process at sea about 500 tonnes of chemicals that are too dangerous to deal with on land. NATO and Russia are reportedly still trying to iron out some issues such as a unified command structure, the rules of engagement, and response procedures in case the convoy faces danger.
The international community has invested heavily in the operation to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal, providing vessels, vehicles, personnel and tens of millions of US dollars in donations to OPCW and United Nations funds. The deadline for complete elimination is 30 June 2014.