Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons n°2

16 Jan 2014

Neutralizing Syrian chemical weapons on board the Cape Ray, a cargo ship converted into an industrial platform, situated in international waters will make it possible to avoid national regulations.

This worldwide first will transform the high seas into a free zone, free from any democratic controls and environmental and social constraints. The OPCW and the United States state that 500 tonnes of Syrian’s priority substances will be treated at sea in a couple of weeks whereas the final destruction of America’s chemical weapons will not be finished before 2023. On land, the United States is hoping to treat 3,100 tonnes in 10 years. At sea, they are convinced that they can treat 500 tonnes within 4 weeks.

At the moment, a low-grade ro-ro, the Ark Futura with a total of 38 deficiencies since 2000 in European ports, is shunting somewhere in the Mediterranean loaded with an undisclosed percentage of chemical weapons from 2 of the 12 storage sites in Syria.

It shall only be when all 12 facilities will be emptied and all the weapons loaded onto the Ark Futura and another ro-ro, specialized in transporting cars that the American floating factory will step into action.

The inhabitants of the Mediterranean, fishermen and the fish are not about to get rid of the threat. In fact, chemical weapons are not new to the Mediterranean. There are numerous chemical weapon dumping sites in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. The most significant are off the coast of Bari and Naples in Italy and Saint-Raphaël in France. The majority of these immersions date from the 1950s and derive from the stockpile of chemical weapons that the allied forces had accumulated to respond, if necessary, to a German chemical attack during the Second World War.

Sixty three years later, the Mediterranean Sea is certainly not immune to an accidental immersion or even, as a last resort, voluntary. Neither the OPCW nor Italy, off whose coast the American performance will most probably take place, have designated a port of refuge in the case that something goes amiss aboard the Cape Ray. In the case of a major accident will the final solution for the Cape Ray and its cargo be the depths of the Mediterranean?

Robin des Bois is hoping that the current plan to destroy Syrian’s chemical weapons is abandoned. The priority substances and other components of the Syrian chemical weapons could, under the control of OPCW, be treated on land in Europe, in the United States or in other countries and regions where the best techniques are available. The rhythm of the destruction must be carried out with respect to the health and safety of the workers, local populations and the environment.




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