Geneva, June 23, 2014 – The Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ambassador Ahmet Uzumcu, announced today that the last 7.28%, about 100 metric tons, of declared chemicals were loaded today on board the Danish ship, Ark Futura, and removed from the Syrian port of Latakia. This was the 19th shipment of chemicals out of Syria, the first shipment since April 24, 2014, and completes the removal of some 1,200 metric tons of chemical-weapons-related materials from Syria for destruction on board the US ship, MV Cape Ray, and in four other countries. An additional estimated 120 metric tons of the chemical isopropanyl have already been destroyed inside Syria. Dr. Paul F. Walker, Director of Global Green USA/Green Cross International’s Environmental Security and Sustainability Program, stated: “This last shipment of Syrian declared chemicals is a major and historic step forward for building a world free of chemical weapons. While Syria has been over four months delayed in moving these dangerous chemicals out of the country, we can now begin the required physical destruction process and guarantee that these weapons of mass destruction will never be used to threaten humankind again.”
Two ships, the Norwegian Taiko and the Danish Ark Futura, have been receiving partial shipments of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile of some 1,335 metric tons in the Syrian port of Latakia since the first shipment on January 7, 2014. These chemicals will be transported to four land-based incineration facilities in Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and to a US vessel, the MV Cape Ray, which has been outfitted with two chemical hydrolysis units for neutralizing about 560 metric tons, including over 20 tons of mustard agent. The transfer of this last amount to the Cape Ray will take place dockside in the Italian port of Gioia Tauro in southwest Italy, and the US ship will begin neutralizing the chemicals on the high seas in the Mediterranean in the next weeks.
The whole process of destroying chemicals on board the Cape Ray will be at least 60 days, assuming there are no technical or weather delays. The further land-based processes will take four months or more, according to OPCW sources. The projected deadline for complete elimination is December 31, 2014.
Walker added that “the next steps in Syria’s chemical weapons demilitarization process will also be very important. Syria must still clarify a number of reported discrepancies in its official declaration to the OPCW, including the exact amounts of its declared chemical weapons stockpile, its facilities, and the history of its program development. It must also agree to fully destroy its production and storage facilities, as required under the Chemical Weapons Convention.”