Syrian chemical arms 'to be destroyed on US Navy ship'

The US has volunteered a specially-modified naval vessel to help with the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons

The body charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons has confirmed some will be "neutralised" aboard a US Navy ship.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said the US was contributing technology and financing.

The chemicals will be diluted to safer levels using a process called "hydrolysis".

The OPCW said 35 firms had submitted expressions of interest in destroying Syria's remaining chemical stockpiles.

Their suitability is being evaluated.

Difficult timetable

The OPCW statement confirms an earlier BBC report citing industry sources.

The US naval vessel on which neutralisation will take place has not been officially named but is believed to be the MV Cape Ray. It is undergoing modifications to support the operations.

These should be completed by 31 December, the OPCW said.

The announcement is another strong sign that the timetable given to destroy all Syria's chemical weapons arsenal and capabilities by the middle of next year could be achieved, despite its many apparent difficulties, says the BBC's Middle East editor Sebastian Usher.

Many countries have been reluctant to volunteer to dispose of the chemicals.

Hydrolysis will produce an estimated 7.7m litres of effluent, which the OPCW says will be packed in 4,000 containers.

This is a far less toxic cargo than many common industrial by-products, but nations still have to be found to volunteer to dispose of it.

Graphic. Background image shows stockpiles of chemical weapons in the US (2001)

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