While Greek (and Cypriot) leaders exclaim the recovery in their economies (factual data aside), the reality is that they remain low-man-on-the-totem-pole among the European Union (despite holding the Presidency). Nowhere is this better illustrated than the world’s decision to sink two ships carrying Syria’s chemical weapons in the waters near Greece and Cyprus. As KeepTalkingGreece notes, the first stage of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons has reportedly already begun with the aid of Norway, Denmark, Russia, China, Finland, UK and USA, among others. The chosen dumping ground for more than 800 tonnes of chemical weapons… Crete.
The process of decommissioning Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has begun, with the first batch of the country’s chemicals safely loaded aboard a Danish cargo ship in the northwest Syrian port of Lattakia.
Extracting the hazardous material — precursor chemicals used to produce sarin and mustard gas and a small amount of produced mustard gas, known as ‘priority one’ chemicals — is a complex international effort. The first stage is securely packing the chemicals at 12 sites across Syria, two of which are in the middle of battlefields, and transporting them to the port. This is the responsibility of the Syrian army, which will be guarded en route by armoured trucks provided by Russia.
They are then loaded on to two cargo ships provided by Denmark and Norway, which have also supplied naval vessels to escort the ships out of Syrian waters.
It does so using chemical hydrolysis – mixing the hazardous chemicals with reagents such as bleach, water, or sodium hydroxide. The process will result in about 1.5 million gallons of toxic effluent that can’t be used as a chemical weapon and will be disposed of commercially.
Of course these are ‘International Waters’…
As KeepTalkingGreece goes on to note,
?he graveyard of highly toxic weapons will be off Crete, west from the Chania prefecture. Reason enough for Cretans in particular and Greek sin general to protest the process claiming environmental reasons. An international petition against the dumping of the Syrian chemicals in the Mediterranean Seas has already been set up in the petition website avaaz.org:
“Dumping of 800 tonnes of chemical weapons treated with hydrolysis in the Mediterranean will cause serious pollution, environmental degradation and severe threats to public health. It does not respect local societies, international conventions and very valuable ecosystems and marine species present in the area.” (read and sign petition here)
Speaking to defense news website onalert.gr, a Greek official said he couldn’t believe that any scientist at the OPCW would like to poison a broader area among so many countries.
But Greek experts doubt that the hydrolysis method is secure enough.
According to Cretan website FlashNews.gr, it were two cargo ships that already loaded chemicals from Latakia port of Syria: ARK Futura with Danish flag and TAIKO with Norwegian flag.
“Once loaded the two ships left towards Cyprus under the escort of UN ships.
The loading process was taking place under highest secrecy, that the ships had turned off the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and therefore they had disappeared from the marine traffic vessel position maps,” notes Flashnews.gr
Flashnews.gr obtained also several pictures from the loading of Syrian chemicals from the Royal Navy of Denmark.