A US Naval ship set out to finally destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile Monday.
The launch came after Syria missed the December 31, 2013 deadline to do so, following an August agreement on the heels of an alleged Assad chemical gas attack on civilians.
The 650-foot cargo ship is fitted with two large, portable hydrolysis systems that can neutralize the fatal chemicals in Syria’s arsenal.
“All waste from the hydrolysis process on MV Cape Ray will be safely and properly disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons],” said a statement from the US Defense Department.
This week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wrote to Captain Rick Jordan and his crew, congratulating them on a “historic mission.”
“You are about to accomplish something no one has tried,” Hagel wrote. “You will be destroying at sea one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons and helping make a safer world.”
Israel has paid close attention to the situation in Syria, concerned that the conflict might cause weapons spillover into Lebanon, where Hezbollah has a stronghold.