After a number of setbacks concerning security and weather in Syria, the mission to rid the country of deadly chemical weapons is back on track. The United Nations reports that the first shipment of chemical weapons has left Syria, on its way to the American naval vessel, the MV Cape Ray, where the weapons will be destroyed.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said the nine containers were on the Danish ship headed out of the port city of Latakia, though they did not specify exactly how much of the existing 1,300 tons (716 of which are classified as being of the "most dangerous" variety) of chemicals constitutes nine containers. The vessel will remain at sea as it awaits more shipments at the port and is being guarded by ships from China, Denmark, Norway, and Russia.
The program appears to be back on track after Syrian government forces took back control of the highway linking Damascus to the port, and a State Department spokesperson said that Assad's regime appears to be complying with the arrangement.
Frank Kendall, an American undersecretary of defense, told the Wall Street Journal that the process that will be used to destroy the weapons has been utilized for about ten years, but has never been tested at sea. Rick Jordan, the captain of the Cape Ray, reiterated that "Far and away, weather is our single biggest obstacle on this trip."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.