Germany to Help Destroy Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Government accepts request from U.N. and OPCW

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Germany on Thursday agreed to aid international efforts to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

The government’s announcement that it’s “willing and able” to make a “substantial contribution” in the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, believed to include more than 1,000 tons of toxic agents like sarin and VX, comes days after the first shipment left Syria on a Danish ship, AFP reports. The request for help came from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which are coordinating their destruction.

GEKA, the state-owned company based in northern Munster, will burn the remnants—much like industrial waste—created after the weapons were irreversibly destroyed earlier in the process. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it’s stepping in to help “could be the first, decisive step in defusing the Syria conflict” and that the international community “has a duty to ensure their disposal.”

The move comes five months after rockets filled with sarin were fired in Ghouta, outside Damascus, killing hundreds and prompting the U.S. and Russia to broker a deal with Syria to have its chemical weapons arsenal terminated by June 30. Syrian President Bashar Assad blamed the attack on opposition fighters, but Western powers said only the Syrian government was capable of carrying out the assault.