Chemical Weapons Officials Prepare To Dismantle Syria’s Stockpile

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Bilal Hussein / AP

A convoy of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons prepares to cross into Syria at the Lebanese border crossing point of Masnaa, eastern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Oct. 1, 2013.

A 20-strong international team of engineers, chemists and paramedics is due to arrive in Syria today to embark on one of the most hazardous missions in the history of disarmament: to dismantle one of the world’s biggest chemical weapons arsenals, during a civil war, under extreme deadline pressure, reports the Guardian.

In temperatures reaching 95 degrees fahrenheit, inspectors from the International Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will, at times, wear body armor and helmets over their chemical protection suits, sometimes carrying air tanks on their backs, in their efforts to abide by a U.N. Security Council resolution to destroy about 1,000 tons of nerve agents such as sarin and other poisonous gases such as sulphur mustard, the Guardian says.

An official at The Hague said the team charged with destroying Syria’s chemical weapons production capabilities by Nov. 1 will use “expedient methods” to fulfill their tasks. “It might be a case of smashing something up with a sledgehammer. It might be a case of smashing something up with some explosive. It might be a case of driving a tank over something,” he said according to The Washington Post.

Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Sunday he is committed to respect the Chemical Weapons Convention, which calls for a ban on chemical weapons possession and production, reports The Washington Post.

[The Washington Post]