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