The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, confirmed today that the Italian Government has agreed to allow the port of Gioia Tauro for priority chemicals brought from Syria by cargo vessels to be trans-loaded onto a U.S. ship, the MV Cape Ray. The port is located on the Mediterranean coast of southern Italy and is specialised in transhipment activities.
The Cape Ray has been out-fitted with two hydrolysis units which will neutralise some 560 metric tonnes of priority chemicals while the vessel is at sea in international waters. Trans-loading the chemicals onto the Cape Ray in a port facility will greatly improve the safety and security of the operation.
The Director-General made the announcement in Rome following a special hearing that he addressed in the Italian Parliament on the Syria maritime mission. During a briefing with journalists, he restated his confidence that the mid-2014 deadline for eliminating Syria’s entire chemical arsenal can still be met.
“On behalf of the OPCW I wish to thank Italy for its generous contribution in making an Italian port available for trans-loading Syrian chemicals,” the Director-General said. “This comes on top of a € 3 million contribution by Italy to the OPCW’s Syria Trust Fund, and the provision of a military aircraft to transport the first team of OPCW inspectors to Syria. These contributions exemplify the spirit of cooperation underpinning the vitally important international effort to rid Syria of chemical weapons.”