Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

U.S. to destroy Syrian chemical weapons

DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria's government will try to move the most lethal components of its chemical weapons program to a port city by the end of the year, and the United States has offered to pick up and destroy the hazardous material at an offshore facility, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Syrian officials said Saturday.

The international organization's director-general, Ahmet Uzumcu, said in The Hague, Netherlands, that the U.S. government will contribute "a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize" the weapons — most likely on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The weapons are to be removed from Syria by Dec. 31.

Separately, the woman appointed as go-between for the United Nations and the OPCW on destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpile laid out some logistical details. Sigrid Kaag said the weapons will first be sealed and packaged and then transported from multiple sites within Syria to the country's largest port, Latakia. Then they will be loaded onto ships owned by other OPCW members before a second hand-off to U.S. vessels.

The weapons and chemicals "will not be (destroyed) in Syrian territorial waters," Kaag said at a news conference in Damascus.

The OPCW was given the responsibility of overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons under an agreement reached between the United States and Syrian ally Russia on Sept. 14. The United States then shelved plans for a military strike on Syria's government as punishment for a chemical weapons attack in August that killed hundreds of people, including many children, in rebel-held Damascus suburbs. Syria's government acknowledged it possessed chemical weapons and committed to giving them up.

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