Almost Three Quarters of Syria’s Entire Stockpile Now Destroyed

The United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office has announced that 190 metric tonnes of chemicals from the Syrian Arab Republic have been destroyed at a commercial facility in Ellesmere Port. The OPCW meanwhile confirmed today that 74.2% of Syria’s entire stockpile of chemicals has now been destroyed.

In a statement by OPCW on Thursday, 07 August 2014, the UK Government agreed to take responsibility for destroying the chemicals as part of the international mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme. The destroyed chemicals, mainly “B precursors” for making nerve agent and a small quantity of hydrochloric acid, constituted about 15% of the stockpile that was removed from Syria for destruction outside the country. They were incinerated at a commercial facility operated by Veolia at Ellesmere Port with funding provided by the UK Government, under verification by OPCW inspectors.

The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, expressed his appreciation for the UK’s contributions to the international mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme, and for completing the destruction work in a safe and environmentally clean manner.

Operations to destroy the remaining stockpile continue at land-based commercial facilities in Finland and the United States, and onboard the U.S. Maritime Vessel Cape Ray in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Effluent from hydrolysis operations on the Cape Ray will afterwards be destroyed in Finland and at a facility in Germany.

On Thursday, 24 July 2014, in a statement to the OPCW Executive Council, Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü announced that all 1300 metric tonnes of chemicals removed from the Syrian Arab Republic by the international maritime operation have been delivered to destruction facilities outside the country. Destruction activities are now underway in all locations.

The Director-General reported that since the successful trans-loading of 600 metric tonnes of chemicals onto the U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray in the port of Gioia Tauro, Italy on 2 July, the remaining chemicals have been delivered to commercial land-based facilities in Finland, the United Kingdom and United States where they are now in the process of being destroyed. As of 21 July, the amount of all Syrian chemicals destroyed stood at 31.8% of the total.

The Director-General once again commended all the States Parties and the European Union for contributing funding and material resources for the mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

In its meeting today, the Executive Council adopted a decision regarding the destruction and verification of 12 former chemical weapons production facilities (CWPFs) in Syria. As per this decision, seven hangers will be razed to the ground and five underground structures will be sealed permanently to make them inaccessible. The CWPF destruction activities are scheduled to begin within 60 days.

M. Wassouf

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