New plan for Syria's chemical weapons: Destroy them at sea

Under a plan yet to be approved, the chemicals would be transported to the MV Cape Ray in the Mediterranean Sea. The nearly 700-foot ship, based in Portsmouth, Va., and owned by the Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration, would be outfitted with a special system to neutralize the chemical material. U.S. warships would provide an escort and security.

The decision to proceed with the chemical disposal plan at sea would be made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global chemical weapons watchdog agency with 190 member states. In a statement Wednesday in the Netherlands, the watchdog agency said the effort to ship Syria’s chemical arsenal out of the country “continues to pose challenges due to the security situation on the ground.”

No country has committed to disposing of the chemical weapons on its own soil, which is why the U.S. offer to destroy the deadliest of the chemical components at sea is seen as a likely option. The U.S. officials who disclosed aspects of the U.S. portion of the plan spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it by name.