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Ahmet Uzumcu: 'Destroying Syria's weapons'

The director-general of the body responsible for disarming Syria of chemical weapons says they may be destroyed at sea.

Last updated: 25 Nov 2013 10:01
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Weapons inspectors are disarming Syria of its chemical weapons and everything seems to have been going according to plan. But now a crisis appears to be looming.

By December 31, the inspectors will move the most dangerous chemical weapons from Syria to a ship for final their destination and destruction. But, so far, no country has agreed to accept the shipment.

Many countries don't have any experience in destroying this kind of chemicals .... They may fear ... possible adverse effects on the environment or on the people .... But we don't see any possibility of such effects on both the people or the environment.

Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the OPCW

Some 798 tonnes of chemicals and 7.7 million litres of effluent need to be transported and disposed of, but the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is overseeing the disarmament, insists that the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons at sea is safe and feasible.

The OPCW has a long track record of conducting similar operations and has managed or is in the process of overseeing the destruction of biological weapons in the both the US and Russia.

On this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of the OPCW, explains the process.

"Everything will be done according to the international regulations and in a very safe manner and all measures in fact will be taken appropriately either during the transportation of those substances by ship and also during the destruction," he says.

Üzümcü also explains why he believes the US will be at the forefront of the process.

"We expect that they will take the lead," he says.

"There are already some facilities manufactured by the US that can be installed easily on a ship or on land."

So, what will happen to the Syrian weapons now? Why is there not a single country that is prepared to destroy them on its soil? What are the environmental risks of destroying the chemical weapons at sea? How much will it cost? And who will pay?

Felicity Barr talks to Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the man in charge of the weapons inspectors.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430.  

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