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.