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Pentagon Buying Mobile Chemical-Weapons Neutralizer

The Defense Department is buying a mobile system for destroying chemical weapons, Defense News reported on Wednesday, as world leaders grappled with the Syrian government’s alleged nerve-gas attacks on its own citizens.

The Pentagon -- which has destroyed chemical weapons for more than a decade at several U.S. facilities -- now has a new Field Deployable Hydrolysis System that is intended to neutralize large volumes of chemical-weapons materials right on location.

"We are acquiring some ability to deal with chemical materials should we be in a position where we have to do that," Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall said on Wednesday during a presentation at a Washington conference, Defense News reported.

Kendall’s comments, at the ComDef 2013 gathering at the National Press Club, came the same day the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution for U.S. military strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

“The Department of Defense recently developed a transportable chemical weapons destruction system designed to fill a gap in the national capability to destroy U.S. bulk chemical agents, wherever they are found,” Defense Department spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea said in an emailed statement to Defense News. The new system was built at the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center in Maryland.

Kendall did not explicitly talk of using the movable hydrolysis system, which requires a crew of 15 people to operate, in civil war-torn Syria. President Obama’s administration insists it does not intend to send U.S. ground forces to the Middle Eastern nation.

NTI Analysis

  • Disarming Syria of Its Chemical Weapons: Lessons Learned from Iraq and Libya

    Oct. 31, 2013

    This CNS issue brief examines the lessons learned from dismantling Libya and Iraq's chemical weapons programs and what these two cases presage for disarmament in Syria. In particular, this article explores the challenges relating to ensuring material and physical security for both inspectors and the chemical weapons stockpile itself; verifying the accuracy and completeness of disclosed inventories; and developing effective monitoring and verification regimes for the long-term. The conclusion examines recommendations stemming from this analysis.

  • UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection

    Oct. 21, 2013

    The UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date.

Country Profile

Flag of Syria

Syria

This article provides an overview of Syria's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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