News / Middle East

US Ship Prepared to Destroy Syrian Chemical Weapons

US Ship Prepared to Destroy Syrian Chemical Weaponsi
X
January 03, 2014 1:48 PM
The U.S. is preparing to deploy a ship that will destroy Syria's chemical weapons at sea. VOA Defense Department correspondent Luis Ramirez boarded the vessel for a look at how the process will work and has this report.
US Ship Prepared to Destroy Syrian Chemical Weapons
Luis Ramirez
Shipyard workers are readying the MV Cape Ray for a mission to destroy Syria's most potent chemical weapons arsenal at sea.

The U.S.-owned cargo ship is scheduled to leave for the Mediterranean in about two weeks, Pentagon officials told reporters during a tour of the ship on Thursday.

Deadly chemical weapons

The Syrian government agreed to turn over its chemical weapons last year amid threatened U.S. military action.

International monitors and crews from several nations will help in the process, escorting the chemical weapons shipments to a port in Syria where they will be loaded onto Scandinavian cargo ships. The weapons are expected to be transferred to the Cape Ray at an undisclosed port in Italy.

A December 31 deadline for removing most of the deadliest chemical agents has passed. International monitors say the delays are due to logistics, bad weather and continued fighting in Syria's on-going civil war.

Special equipment

The Cape Ray is being equipped with modular housing to accommodate three times its normal complement of crew.

Two hydrolysis units for destroying Syrian chemicals used in mustard and nerve gas weapons are also being installed.
Syria's chemical weapons will be destroyed inside this tent aboard the Cape Ray, which has been set up in the ship's cargo area.Syria's chemical weapons will be destroyed inside this tent aboard the Cape Ray, which has been set up in the ship's cargo area.
“What we'll do is convert materials that are chemical weapons themselves or precursors to chemical weapons," said Frank Kendall, who has oversight of chemical, biological and nuclear arms as U.S. Under Secretary for Defense. "We'll change them chemically into compounds that are no longer usable for that. This avoids having to put these materials on somebody's territory where you have to deal with all the political and environmental conditions associated with doing that under local law."

Hot spot

The process will occur in a tent in the ship's cargo area.

"This will be potentially the most contaminated area. This is the hottest area for us,” a worker in a yellow jacket told reporters on the ship.

Those who will operate the system say the process is safe and they will see to it that no toxic waste ends up in the sea.

The technology is not new. The U.S. has used it destroy America's own chemical weapons. But this is the first time it will be done at sea. 

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association research group, believes it is the best option.

“The technology's well proven," he said. "It is a process that doesn't involve the possibility of explosives, of any burning, and so this is a relatively safe process.”

Test runs have already begun and the ship is awaiting orders to head for the Mediterranean. Technicians plan to neutralize about 700 tons of Syrian chemicals in a span of 45 days.

It's a big job and delays are likely. Crews are loading extra supplies in anticipation the work will take longer than scheduled.

Reuters contributed to this story.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: phillipp from: Rustenburg, SA
January 04, 2014 11:42 PM
It's a shame how the U.S is trying to rectify the mistake of Iraq here but not doing what they should. Without destroying the Syrian chemical weapons, they have the power to take Assad out of office so there be peace. Instead they are playing around him, thus looking for a corner in a circle. How???

by: Anonymous
January 04, 2014 5:44 PM
Good to see these chemicals removed from Bashar Al Assads hands. It will be great to see his arrest soon too.

by: Fuzzy Brower from: Miami
January 03, 2014 12:00 PM
The CIA, Western media, and Western politicians insist that they have taken every precaution to ensure the now admitted torrent of cash and weapons that have been flowing into Syria to compound and perpetuate the bloodbath, did not end up in the hands of terrorists. However, no plausible explanation has been given as to where al-Nusra is getting its cash and weapons from, or how it has managed to eclipse the extensively Western-backed “moderates,” to become the premier front in the fight against the Syrian people.

FACT: The CIA has a LONG HISTORY of staging terror attacks, then presenting themselves as the "answer".

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs