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A warning sign is pictured at chemical weapons destruction site at GEKA (Gesellschaft zur Entsorgung von chemischen Kampfstoffen und Ruestungsaltlasten) company in Munster October 14, 2013. The state-owned GEKA, translated as society for the disposal of chemical weapons and ordnance, is the only German company which is able to destroy chemical munitions countrywide. GEKA is currently destroying German world-war chemical munitions. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY - Tags: MILITARY) Die GEKA mbH arbeitet im Auftrag des Bundes. Alleingesellschafter ist das Bundes­ministerium der Verteidigung (BMVg). Als hundertprozentige Gesellschaft des Bundes haben wir uns der Entsorgung chemi­scher Kampfstoffe und durch Rüstungsaltlasten kontaminierter Böden verschrieben.
Image: Reuters

US to destroy Syria weapons

November 30, 2013

The United States will destroy some of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal at sea, after previously offering to do so. The hydrolysis operation targets the most lethal parts of the stockpile.


US to destroy Syrian chemical stocks at sea

The announcement of the operation was made on Saturday by the world's chemical watchdog, the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The weapons will be destroyed at sea by hydrolysis, when chemical compounds decompose due to their reaction with water. OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü said the US government had offered "destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize Syria's priority chemicals".

The chemicals are due to be removed from Syria by December 31.

The operation is part of a joint OPCW-UN plan to completely eradicate Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year. It said on Saturday it will evaluate 35 expressions of interest from commercial companies that have applied to destroy the inventory.

Üzümcü said the organization was "at the preliminary stage of ascertaining the availability of suitable candidate companies," adding those making bids would need to comply with international regulations on safety and the environment.

Üzümcü called on member states to contribute to a special trust fund to finance the destruction of the weapons, or to provide in-kind contributions, including contracting companies to "conduct destruction activities."

jr/tj (Reuters, AP, AFP)