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US weighing to destroy Syrian chemicals at sea


The United States is considering plans to destroy chemical components of Syrian weapons on a barge in the international waters as no country is willing to dispose of the weapons.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that two systems were under review being intended to destroy the precursor materials that are designed to be combined to form chemical munitions.

Syria’s smaller arsenal of operational chemical weapons would be destroyed separately, the newspaper said, citing American officials, who did not say whether any chemical residue would be dumped in the ocean.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is operating in Syria to identify the chemical weapons and monitor the destruction.

On Friday, Albania turned down a US appeal to destroy the Syrian weapons on its territory after a series of domestic street protests. Norway rejected the US request either, saying it did not have the expertise or the facilities to do so.

Destruction of the weapons in international waters would not require approval by any particular country, but environmental activists might voice opposition.

No American ships, personnel or companies would be involved under the proposal, the report said. Americans may only provide security in the international waters where the barge would be situated, it added.

In remarks on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry referred to two proposals when he was asked whether the effort to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, as mandated by the United Nations, had stalled.

“We are not without other alternatives,” he said. “In fact, we are actively pursuing two other alternatives which provide us a complete capacity to do the destruction and to meet the schedule.”

Kerry vowed to end the destruction operation by the end of the year.

“The chemical weapons of one country are being corralled and moved and contained and placed under the supervision of an international organization which is committed to removing those weapons from Syria by the end of the year,” he said. “And I believe we are on target currently to achieve that.”

Syria has agreed to a Dec. 31 deadline for destroying most critical part of it chemical weapons, and a Feb. 5 deadline for the rest of them. The agreement came after allegation that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons earlier this year against militant groups fighting Damascus. Syria categorically rejected the allegation at the time.

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