DOD Offers to Help Neutralize Syria’s Chemical Weapons

The Defense Department has offered the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons a technological solution to help neutralize Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile by the end of the year, a senior defense official announced last week. The hydrolysis system would mix bulk liquid storage of Syrian mustard gas with water and sodium hypochlorite bleach to produce a very low-level waste that can safely be shipped, according to a Dec. 5 release. “Last winter, (then)-Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter directed Undersecretary Frank Kendall to chair a senior integration group to look at technologies that could be applied to the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile because we knew at some point the international community would need capabilities to destroy the stockpile,” said the official, who spoke to reporters on background. Since then, DOD has “fully-fabricated” three units, two of which will be mounted below the deck of the Cape Ray—a vessel owned by the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, states the release. If OPCW agrees, the ship will be used for neutralization operations next year. “We remain on track to destroy Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a speech at the Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain on Dec. 7. (See also Senior NSC Official Touts Progress with Syrian Chemical Weapons)(DOD report on Hagel speech)