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UK pledges to help destroy Syria chemicals

Foreign Office says Britain will transport and dispose of 150 tonnes of industrial-grade stockpiled chemicals.

Last updated: 20 Dec 2013 16:16
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A Royal Navy Vessel will provide protection to Danish and Norwegian cargo ships removing the chemicals [Reuters]

Britain's Foreign Office has said it will help the international mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal by destroying 150 tonnes of industrial-grade stockpiled chemicals at a commercial facility.

The announcement on Friday means the UK joins the United States, Russia, China, Denmark, Norway and Finland, all of which are already committed to the mission.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the chemicals will be shipped to the UK before being transferred to a commercial site to be incinerated and destroyed.

“The international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme is essential to ensure that [Syrian president Bashar al] Assad can never again use these horrific weapons to murder his own people," an FCO statement said.

“The UK...will be playing its part in this mission over the coming weeks and months."

It added that it will give specialist equipment to help transport chemicals to the US and to aid the destruction at sea of some of the most toxic chemical weapons.

Navy protection

The UK will only be handling the chemicals on its shores, not fully-formed chemical weapons.

“It is important to stress that these are chemicals, not chemical weapons," the statement said. 

"They do not contain explosives. The chemicals will be sealed in standard industrial containers to international standards.”

The type of chemicals being shipped are similar to those used in the British pharmaceutical industry and so facilities already exist for their destruction.

In addition, a Royal Navy Vessel will provide protection to Danish and Norwegian cargo ships in international waters when removing the entire chemical stockpile from Syria by sea.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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