Global Agency Tasked With Destroying Syrian Chemical Weapons Wants Help From the Private Sector

Stuck with a stockpile and no place to put it, the Hague-based organization is looking to commercial firms to help put a dent in the destruction process.

A man participates in an exercise during the education of Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons inspectors at the German army Bundeswehr training area in southern Germany on Oct. 16.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
Nov. 22, 2013, 9:04 a.m.

The or­gan­iz­a­tion in charge of dis­mant­ling Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al-weapons pro­gram is rush­ing to find a coun­try will­ing to host the de­struc­tion of the Syr­i­an stock­pile.

Des­troy­ing the ar­sen­al, which in­cludes deadly mus­tard gas and the nerve agent sar­in, can’t safely be done on Syr­i­an soil rav­aged by con­tin­ued armed con­flict, ac­cord­ing to the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons, which the United Na­tions chose to over­see the pro­cess. The pur­suit has been an un­lucky one so far, with Al­bania last week re­ject­ing a U.S. re­quest to host de­struc­tion, lead­ing of­fi­cials to pon­der car­ry­ing out isol­ated de­struc­tion aboard ships at sea.

So, the chem­ic­al-weapons watch­dog group has turned its at­ten­tion from the “where” of it all, and is fo­cus­ing now on the “who.”

The agency, which won a No­bel Peace Prize last month, an­nounced Fri­day that it is in­vit­ing com­mer­cial chem­ic­al-dis­pos­al firms to bid on get­ting in­volved in the de­moli­tion pro­cess. The of­fer ex­tends to any private firm in the 190 na­tions party to the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion, an arms-con­trol treaty ex­clud­ing only Egypt, North Korea, South Su­dan, and An­gola (Is­rael and My­an­mar have signed, but not yet rat­i­fied, the agree­ment).

OP­CW of­fi­cials say the firms would des­troy 18 types of chem­ic­als in the Syr­i­an ar­sen­al. Many are com­mon in­dus­tri­al sub­stances that pose a danger only when mixed to­geth­er to cre­ate oth­er, more harm­ful forms of chem­ic­als. Some can be safely rendered harm­less and des­troyed. OCPW set the price tag of des­troy­ing these chem­ic­al weapons between 35 mil­lion and 40 mil­lion euros, or $47 mil­lion to $54 mil­lion.

The agency did not in­dic­ate wheth­er mus­tard gas, sar­in, and oth­er leth­al chem­ic­als are in­cluded. Still, these chem­ic­als ac­count for about 62 per­cent of Syr­ia’s 1,300-ton stock­pile of nerve agents, which means big busi­ness for the private sec­tor. While na­tions them­selves may be hes­it­ant to get in­volved in de­struc­tion ef­forts, their private com­pan­ies may not.

But find­ing private firms to take over the de­struc­tion of some of Syr­ia’s stock­pile isn’t the prob­lem. Get­ting their em­ploy­ees in­to and out of the coun­try in the middle of a civil war, AP’s Mike Cord­er writes, will be a massive chal­lenge.

OP­CW con­firmed at the start of this month that in­spect­ors had rendered Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al-weapons fa­cil­it­ies “in­op­er­able.” High-risk chem­ic­al weapons are sched­uled to be des­troyed by next March, and the en­tire stock­pile by June.

What We're Following See More »
VENEZUELA, NORTH KOREA ADDED
White House Announces Enhanced Vetting for Eight Countries
34 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE
"President Trump is replacing his controversial travel ban with a targeted list of restrictions that will enhance vetting for nationals from eight countries, senior administration officials announced Sunday. The eight countries on the modified list of countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen."

The officials say these states failed to comply with the U.S. information-sharing requirements that aim to make vetting processes stronger.

Source:
TRUMP SPEECH “AN ASSAULT ON OUR MOST CHERISHED RIGHT”
Every NFL Team Protests Trump in Some Way
34 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Every team that played on Sunday participated in some form of demonstration" of President Trump's comments about players who kneel during the National Anthem. Some "players, coaches and executives ... stood together arm-in-arm along the sidelines" while "others sat, knelt or raised a fist" and some entire teams "stayed in the locker room or tunnel for the duration of the anthem." The Broncos' Von Miller, who knelt with 31 of his teammates, said, "We felt like President Trump's speech was an assault on our most cherished right—freedom of speech. So, collectively we felt like we had to do something before this game."

Source:
TUESDAY ADDRESS AT GEORGETOWN
Sessions to Address Campus Free Speech
34 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Trump isn't the only member of his administration fighting a culture war this week; his Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make a "free speech on campus address" on Tuesday at Georgetown University law school in D.C. It's going to get testy." Sessions will tell the students: "Whereas the American university was once the center of academic freedom — a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas — it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."

Source:
FAR-RIGHT MAKES BIG GAINS
Merkel Wins Reelection but Party Loses Seats
34 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Angela Merkel will once again lead Germany, but her governing coalition is going to have to deal with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which rode a wave of anti-immigrant anger to claim a sizable chunk of seats in the Parliament for the first time. ... AfD, a hard-right, anti-Islam group not even represented in parliament in 2013, has become the third largest party. That might mean big changes to the character of a parliament that, thanks to the long shadow cast by Germany’s Nazi past, was largely free of hardline nationalism. Elsewhere, the environmentalist Greens and classical liberal, centrist Free Democrats (FDP) both grew their share of the vote," at the expense of socialists and Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Source:
VOTE TO GO FORWARD
Collins, Cruz Appear to Oppose Health Bill
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Republican opposition to the GOP health care bill swelled to near-fatal numbers Sunday as Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the last-ditch effort to scrap the Obama health care law and Sen. Ted Cruz said that "right now" he doesn't back it. White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure's sponsors, said Republicans would press ahead with a vote this week." Collins said she doesn't support the bill's cuts to Medicaid, while Cruz said it wouldn't do enough to lower premiums.

Source:
×
×

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.

Login