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Britain to Help in Syria Chemical Weapons Operation

Britain to provide a navy ship to secure the removal of chemical weapons from Syria.
By Elad Benari, Canada
First Publish: 12/20/2013, 10:17 PM

UN chemical weapons experts in Syria
UN chemical weapons experts in Syria
Reuters

Britain will provide a navy ship to secure the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and will also destroy 150 tons 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 told AFP.

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, the news agency reported.

Some of the chemicals included in the Syrian stockpile are not in themselves dangerous, and 150 tons 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, according to AFP.

“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.

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.

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.

This week, Russia joined in the effort as well, sending armored trucks to Syria.

A report by UN inspectors released last week said that chemical weapons have been used at least five times during the Syrian conflict and in some cases children and civilians have been slaughtered.

The report cited "credible evidence" and "evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons" in the Syrian districts of Ghouta, Khan Al Asal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.

However, the report did not attribute blame for the attacks, as this was not part of the mandate given to the team by the UN Security Council.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)