Britain to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons

Some of the chemicals included in the Syrian stockpile are not in themselves dangerous

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Britain will provide a navy ship to secure the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and will also destroy 150 tonnes of its industrial grade chemicals, the Foreign Office said Friday.

The military vessel will “assist in the safety and security of Danish and Norwegian cargo ships in international waters when removing the entire chemical stockpile from Syria by sea,” a spokesman said.

Britain has also agreed to provide specialist equipment to the United States in the hydrolysis of the most sensitive chemicals before their final destruction aboard a US ship in international waters.

Some of the chemicals included in the Syrian stockpile are not in themselves dangerous, and 150 tonnes of these will be transported to Britain to be incinerated at a commercial facility.

“The chemicals, known as ‘B precursors’, are used in the pharmaceutical industry and are handled similarly to many other chemicals that are routinely manufactured, transported and destroyed in the UK,” the spokesman said.

“The chemicals only become highly toxic when mixed with an ‘A precursor’ to make a nerve agent. To eliminate this risk, the A and B precursors will be removed from Syria separately.”

The spokesman added: “It is important to stress that these are chemicals, not chemical weapons. They do not contain explosives.”

The contribution is part of an international operation to destroy Syria’s stockpile of deadly chemicals following a deal struck between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime; the United States and Russia.

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