U.S. Ship Sent to Destroy Chemical Weapons Reaches Spain

But officials said the ship won’t pick up chemical materials until Syria has handed over all its chemical weapons.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI - SEPTEMBER 9: (EDITORS NOTE: IMAGE RELEASED BY U.S. MILITARY PRIOR TO TRANSMISSION) In this handout image provided by the U.S. Navy, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) is anchored off the coast after four storms in one month have devastated the area and killed more than 800 people September 9, 2008 in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) has been diverted from the scheduled Continuing Promise 2008 humanitarian assistance deployment in the western Caribbean to conduct hurricane relief operations in Haiti. (Photo by Joshua Adam Nuzzo/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
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Jordain Carney
Feb. 13, 2014, 3:22 a.m.

The MV Cape Ray ar­rived in Spain on Thursday, but Pentagon of­fi­cials stressed that the U.S. ship won’t help des­troy Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons un­til the coun­try has turned over its en­tire ar­sen­al.

“When Syr­ia has com­pleted re­mov­al of its chem­ic­al ma­ter­i­als, MV Cape Ray will de­part Rota and pro­ceed to the trans­load­ing port in Italy, where she will take the chem­ic­als on board,” said Col. Steve War­ren, a De­fense De­part­ment spokes­man. “Our ship is pre­pared and our crew is trained to safely neut­ral­ize Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al ma­ter­i­als.”

Syr­ia has been un­der in­creas­ing cri­ti­cism for miss­ing dead­lines un­der the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons’ timeline to des­troy the coun­try’s chem­ic­al-weapons pro­gram. A third ship­ment of chem­ic­al ma­ter­i­als was taken out of the coun­try Monday.

Des­pite con­cerns raised by U.S. of­fi­cials, War­ren said the United States is “ready to ful­fill our con­tri­bu­tions to this in­ter­na­tion­al ef­fort; it is time for Syr­ia to live up to their ob­lig­a­tions to the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity.”

Once Syr­ia turns over its chem­ic­al weapons, the Cape Ray will travel to Italy, where it will take the chem­ic­als and des­troy them at sea, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the U.S. Em­bassy in Mad­rid. The United States has also giv­en mil­lions of dol­lars in as­sist­ance to help sup­port the OP­CW’s ef­forts.


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