Selection due Thursday of Italian port for transfer of deadly gases

Jan. 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM
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ROME, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Which Italian port will be the transfer point for Syrian chemical weapons is based on needs of the agency overseeing their destruction, an official says.

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino says the selection will be based on technical requirements "which were requested and which the infrastructure minister is evaluating," the Italian news service ANSA reported Monday.

Speaking from Paris where she was attending a weekend meeting of the Friends of Syria Group, Bonino said the choice of port would be announced Thursday by Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is responsible for destroying the toxic gases.

Ports under consideration are reportedly Brindisi, Taranto, Augusta, Giola Aruro and Cagliari.

The chosen port would be part of a process in which chemical weapons surrendered by the Syrian government, including mustard gas and components of sarin gas, would be transferred from a Danish or Norwegian cargo vessel to a U.S. ship.

Bonino has promised the deadly gases "will not touch Italian soil," but officials in some of the ports have said they do not want their city selected. Sardinia Gov. Ugo Cappellacci rejected Cagliari's candidacy "with rage and shock." Brindisi has said it will not allow the ships to dock.

The operation is expected to take place at the end of the month. Officials say the transfer would occur in open seas.

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