Many Steps, Many Countries To Get Chemicals Out Of Syria

Dec 17, 2013

With the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons expected to on Tuesday unveil its final plan for how to rid Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime of its chemical weapons, NPR's Tom Bowman has looked at how the deadly ingredients will be removed even as Syria's civil war continues to rage.

On Morning Edition, Tom explained that with a key overland route to the Mediterranean now under the control of Assad's forces, the plan is to:

-- Use trucks to transport about 500 tons of chemical agents to the port at Latkia, Syria. That's supposed to be done by Dec. 31, though Tom says that date may slip a bit.

-- There, the agents will be put on ships provided by Norway and Denmark.

-- The ships will then set sail for Italy.

-- At an Italian port, the chemicals will be transferred to the Cape Ray, "a ship in the U.S. Maritime Administration's (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force" that has been leased by the U.S. Navy.

-- From there, the Cape Ray will set out to sea. On board, in stainless steel vats that Tom says look like something you might see in a brew pub, the chemical agents will be neutralized with hot water, bleach and other chemicals.

-- Eventually, the now-safe mixture will be transferred to commercial waste disposal facilities.

Of course, a question will continue to be asked: "Has Syria turned over everything?" Tom says.

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