The international chemical weapons watchdog said Friday it has verified the destruction of all of Syria’s unfilled munitions, another milestone along the road to eradicating President Bashar Al-Assad’s chemical weapons program by mid-2014, reports The Associated Press (AP).
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement quoted by AP that its experts in Syria also have verified the destruction of parts of buildings at weapons production facilities.
The latest destruction work was near the city of Homs. The OPCW says the sites “had remained inaccessible for some time due to security reasons.”
The joint United Nations-OPCW team in Syria aims to remove the most toxic chemicals from Syria by the end of the year for destruction at sea and destroy the entire program by mid-2014.
The plan to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is a joint Russian-U.S. Syrian chemical plan that was endorsed by the UN Security Council in September.
The resolution was a last-minute measure to prevent an American strike on Syria in retaliation for the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in an attack on a Damascus suburb in August that left hundreds dead.
On Thursday, U.S. officials said that the Pentagon is preparing for a mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile on board a U.S. ship, using a system that has not yet been tested at sea.
The officials said that the Motor Vessel Cape Ray, a ship owned by the Department of Transportation, is currently being outfitted in Norfolk, Va., with a Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, designed to dilute the chemical weapons stockpile.
These officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that the FDHS was designed to be portable and will be tested at sea for the first time later this month, only weeks before it’s planning to embark.
Despite the limited time allowed for testing, the officials said they are “comfortable” with the system, which has been successfully tested on land at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
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