Europeans Nervous About Syria Chemical-Destruction Safety

Global Security Newswire Staff
Jan. 23, 2014, 6:47 a.m.

Greece wants ab­so­lute guar­an­tees that des­troy­ing Syr­ia’s war­fare chem­ic­als would not en­danger the Medi­ter­ranean, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ports.

Athens is not alone in its nervous­ness about the plan for elim­in­at­ing Dam­as­cus chem­ic­als; Brit­ish cit­izens also are be­gin­ning to voice safety con­cerns re­lated to their na­tion’s in­volve­ment in the pro­cess.

Greek For­eign Min­is­ter Evan­gelos Ven­izelos asked EU for­eign policy chief Cath­er­ine Ashton to de­mand the guar­an­tees from the United Na­tions and the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons. The two or­gan­iz­a­tions are over­see­ing ef­forts to elim­in­ate the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment’s chem­ic­al-war­fare stock­pile by the end of June.

Emma Bonino, Evan­gelos’ Itali­an equi­val­ent, “agreed on the send­ing of a let­ter to the dir­ect­or of the OP­CW,” the Greek For­eign Min­istry ad­ded in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

The Syr­i­an chem­ic­al ar­sen­al’s dead­li­est com­pon­ents are be­ing trans­por­ted through the vi­ol­ence-wracked na­tion to coastal city of Latakia, where they are to be loaded on Dan­ish and Nor­we­gi­an trans­port ships. The chem­ic­als then would travel un­der in­ter­na­tion­al es­cort to an Itali­an port, where they would enter the cus­tody of a U.S. ves­sel equipped to des­troy them.

Greece is seek­ing con­firm­a­tion that there is “no doubt … as to the se­cur­ity and pro­tec­tion of the Medi­ter­ranean en­vir­on­ment dur­ing the pro­cess of the trans­port­ing and de­struc­tion of Syr­i­an chem­ic­al weapons,” the Greek For­eign Min­istry said.

In earli­er dis­cus­sions with Green­peace, Ocean­ica and the World Wild­life Fund, OCPW Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Ah­met Üzüm­cü as­ser­ted that the de­struc­tion ef­fort would not drop any byproducts in­to the Medi­ter­ranean Sea. Rep­res­ent­at­ives of the watch­dog groups con­veyed that prom­ise to Ven­izelos on Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to the min­istry state­ment.

Mean­while, pe­ti­tion­ers in the United King­dom have gathered nearly 400 sig­na­tures in op­pos­i­tion to the planned elim­in­a­tion of less-dan­ger­ous Syr­i­an chem­ic­al-arms in­gredi­ents at Ellesmere Port, the Liv­er­pool Echo re­por­ted.

The pres­id­ent of Syr­ia, Bashar As­sad, ad­mit­ted his gov­ern­ment’s pos­ses­sion of chem­ic­al weapons and agreed to elim­in­ate them after Dam­as­cus was blamed for a nerve-gas strike al­legedly res­ult­ing in more than 1,400 ci­vil­ian deaths last Au­gust.

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