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US to destroy Syria's chemicals at sea, weapons watchdog says

AMSTERDAM -- The United States has offered to destroy Syrian chemicals on a U.S. ship, the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Saturday, and is looking for a suitable Mediterranean port where processing can be carried out.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been under pressure to find an alternative plan for the destruction of Syria's poison gas arsenal after Albania backed out of hosting the work.

The OPCW said 35 firms had expressed an interest in bidding for commercial contracts by Friday's deadline for the treatment of about 800 tons of bulk industrial chemicals that are safe to destroy in commercial incinerators.

But another 500 tons of chemicals, including nerve agents, are seen as too dangerous to import into a country or process commercially, and will be treated offshore on the U.S. ship.

The OPCW said the operation would be carried out on a U.S. vessel at sea using hydrolysis, adding a naval vessel was undergoing modifications to support the operations.

"The United States has offered to contribute a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize Syria's priority chemicals," an OPCW statement said.

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