Companies eye destruction of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile

AP

More than 30 private companies have said they are willing to destroy chemicals that Syria declared to be part of its toxic agent program, an official at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Friday.

Earlier Friday, the chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog, Ahmet Uzumcu, told a meeting that 28 companies had submitted expressions of interest in destroying parts of a stockpile of less-dangerous chemicals from Syria. The most toxic and weaponized of these will still have to be destroyed at a secure facility under OPCW supervision, most likely on a ship in the Mediterranean.

Last week, the organization sought expressions of interest from companies who want a role in “the treatment and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous organic and inorganic chemicals” from Syria.

The OPCW official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the number of private companies offering their services, said that by Friday night 35 companies had sent formal expressions of interest. The deadline was midnight Friday.

The OPCW wants nearly 800 tons of chemicals, many of which are industrial chemicals regularly destroyed at civilian facilities across the world, to be destroyed by private companies as part of its ambitious plan to completely eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons program by mid-2014.