U.S. Chemical-Destruction Ship Departs for Syria Mission

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
Jan. 28, 2014, 6:41 a.m.

A spe­cially equipped U.S. ves­sel em­barked on Monday for a mis­sion to neut­ral­ize Syr­ia’s dead­li­est war­fare chem­ic­als, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

The MV Cape Ray would need about two weeks to reach the Itali­an sea­port of Gioia Tauro, where it is ex­pec­ted to pick up hun­dreds of tons of chem­ic­al-war­fare stocks re­moved from Syr­ia by Dan­ish and Nor­we­gi­an trans­port ships. The U.S. ves­sel would carry the weapon agents and arms in­gredi­ents out to sea, where they would be com­bined with hot wa­ter and oth­er ma­ter­i­als in ma­chinery de­signed to gen­er­ate a re­l­at­ively harm­less waste.

The De­fense De­part­ment on Monday stated that end ma­ter­i­als “will be safely and prop­erly dis­posed of at com­mer­cial fa­cil­it­ies,” and stressed that none would be “re­leased in­to the sea or air.”

Ap­prox­im­ately 35 non­mil­it­ary crew mem­bers and a num­ber of op­er­a­tions ex­perts were on the ves­sel, AP quoted De­fense De­part­ment spokes­man Col. Steve War­ren as say­ing on Monday. The Navy’s Mil­it­ary Seal­ift Com­mand as­sumed over­sight of the ship this week from the Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment’s Ready Re­serve Force.

The Cape Ray is slated to ul­ti­mately take on more than five dozen people trained to run its chem­ic­al-de­struc­tion tech­no­logy, as well as pro­tec­tion per­son­nel and oth­er crew.

U.S. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel said in a state­ment that ship per­son­nel are “about to ac­com­plish something no one has tried.”

As they pre­pared to set sail, Hagel told the work­ers, “You will be des­troy­ing, at sea, one of the world’s largest stock­piles of chem­ic­al weapons and help­ing make a safer world.”

Pri­or to de­struc­tion, though, the chem­ic­als must be trans­por­ted through Syr­ia by forces loy­al to Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad. Dis­arm­a­ment of­fi­cials have placed high im­port­ance on pro­tect­ing the stocks dur­ing ship­ment through the war-rav­aged Middle East­ern na­tion.

As­sad’s re­gime on Monday placed its second load of the dan­ger­ous sub­stances on for­eign ships. En­voys and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion sources pegged the size of that cache at 15 to 20 tons, which means that about one-twen­ti­eth of As­sad’s most dan­ger­ous chem­ic­al stocks are now in in­ter­na­tion­al cus­tody, the New York Times re­por­ted.

Yet, As­sad’s gov­ern­ment “should be way down the road by now” in turn­ing over the ma­ter­i­als, said Chris­ti­an Charti­er, a spokes­man for the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons. In­ter­na­tion­al au­thor­it­ies are un­der a self-im­posed dead­line to des­troy Syr­ia’s en­tire chem­ic­al ar­sen­al by the middle of 2014.

The Syr­i­an re­gime ad­mit­ted pos­sess­ing a chem­ic­al ar­sen­al and agreed to its de­struc­tion last year, after a nerve-gas strike al­legedly killed more than 1,400 people in a rebel-held Dam­as­cus neigh­bor­hood.

What We're Following See More »
Trump to Name Scaramucci Communications Director
1 minutes ago

"Trump's plans to appoint" financier Anthony Scaramucci "came as a surprise to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who found out after the plans had already been made."

Kasowitz Out, John Dowd In
8 hours ago

As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."

Trump Looking to Discredit Mueller
8 hours ago

President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.

Why Yes, Mueller Is Looking into Trump Businesses
13 hours ago

In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."

Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions
19 hours ago

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.