Syria now has only 17 days left to hand over the remainder of its chemical weapons stockpile or it will be in violation of a United Nations deadline that had originally been set as an alternative to a U.S.-led attack on Syrian military infrastructure, per comments made today by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and reported by the BBC:
As of this week, the OPCW said it had only received 54% of Syria’s declared 1,200 tons of chemical weapons, and only 43% of “Priority One” materials – those too toxic to be sent to a commercial processing plant.
That means an estimated 552 tons of chemical stocks are still on the ground in Syria, waiting to be transported by armed convoy to the port of Latakia.
From Latakia the weapons and materials are to be loaded aboard the M/V Cape Ray, a former container vessel that Reuters reported Thursday has been “fitted out with at least $10 million of gear” to enable it to transport Syrian chemical agents into the Mediterranean. Reuters also reported on the process that the crew intends to use for neutralizing the agents, which mainly seems to involve “hot water.” Assuming calm seas, the crew will need “about 60 days of round-the-clock processing to neutralise the chemical agents.”
It is unclear what consequences Damascus will face, if any, for breaching the deadline. Bashar al-Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the Hezbollah terror group widely credited with having swung the momentum of the Syrian war back in the regime’s direction, have in recent days bragged that the three-year-old conflict has been contained and that rebel elements will be functionally defeated by the end of the year.
[Photo: WSJDigitalNetwork / YouTube ]