Germany to help destroy chemical weapons

Germany is joining international efforts to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, the foreign and defence ministries have announced.

Germany agrees to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons

Germany is joining international efforts to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, the foreign and defence ministries have announced.

The decision is in response to a request for help from the UN and OPCW, co-ordinators of the destruction plan.

Ministers said waste from the destroyed weapons would be burned at a government facility in the town of Munster in line with environmental regulations.

Germany has until now refused to accept chemical weapons onto its soil.

But Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany had “decided not to pull back from our responsibility”.

“The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons could be the first, decisive step towards defusing the Syria conflict… It is the duty of the international community to ensure their final disposal,” he added.

He said Germany had the capacity and technology to undertake this task.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Germany “has safe technology and a lot of experience with destroying remnants of chemical arms”.

“It is sensible for us to use this capability for the sake of the international community and with it, make a worthy contribution to the peace process.”

The announcement was welcomed by Russia.

According to the Interfax news agency, a foreign ministry official said it was “a good contribution made by Germany to a task set before the international community”.

The first consignment of toxic chemicals left Syria on a Danish ship early this week.

It is travelling to Italy, where it will be loaded onto a US Navy ship and shipped to international waters for destruction in a specially created titanium tank on board.

Britain has also offered to help get rid of the waste.

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in a deal brokered by the US and Russia last year.

It followed international outrage when rockets filled with the nerve agent sarin were fired at three towns in the Ghouta agricultural belt around the Syrian capital, Damascus, on 21 August.

Hundreds of people were killed in the attacks.

Western powers said only Syrian government forces could have carried out the assault, but President Bashar al-Assad blamed rebel fighters.

Source: BBC.

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