PROGRESS OVERVIEW FOR SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION

Syria’s Chemical Weapons (CW) Destruction Schedule

  •     September 14, 2013 – Syria accedes to Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
  •     October 14 – CWC enters into force for Syria as the 190th State Party
  •     December 31 – All CW removed from Syria via Latakia port on board Danish & Norwegian ships
  •     March 31, 2014 – All “priority chemicals” destroyed on board MV Cape Ray
  •     June 30, 2014 – All chemicals destroyed
  •     December 31, 2014 – All secondary toxic waste destroyed at commercial facilities

MV Cape Ray

  •     US Merchant Marine bulk ro-ro carrier
  •     Built 1977
  •     Displacement – 35,350 tons
  •     197.5 meters long
  •     All self-contained – no release of chemicals or effluents to ocean or environment

Field Hydrolysis System

  •     US semi-mobile neutralization system to destroy chemicals with hot water & caustic chemicals
  •     Fits in 2 shipping containers, with 15 additional containers for supplies and parts

Challenges to Program

  •     Ambitious schedule – First shipment of chemicals out of Syria on January 7, 2014 on Danish ship
  •     Trans-shipment – Chemicals will be transferred to the US ship, Cape Ray, in an Italian port yet to be named, “without touching Italian soil,” for first-stage destruction
  •     Environmental & public health impacts of on-board destruction – US officials allege that there will be no impacts of hydrolysis to ship’s crew or the ocean environment
  •     Second-stage treatment – Hydrolysis will produce 5-10x volume of liquid toxic waste which must be handled commercially, likely by incineration, closed detonation, or bioremediation
  •     Security and safety of OPCW inspectors and workers – Shipment of chemicals to Latakia delayed due to violence, and ships protected by naval vessels
  •     Funding of inspection and demilitarization efforts – Voluntary trust fund established by OPCW – some $100 million needed
  •     Transparency & public outreach – Protests in Italy illustrate need for more transparency

Conclusions

  •     Historic step forward for global abolition of chemical weapons
  •     First time for CW destruction in a civil war environment – safety & security challenges
  •     Green Cross/Global Green continues to play major role in public outreach & information, but with little funding