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Chemical weapons could arrive in Italy within weeks

Transfer part of Italy's work on security, says premier's office

16 January, 16:59
Chemical weapons could arrive in Italy within weeks (See related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 16 - The transfer of chemical weapons from Syria between ships in a port in Italy's southern region of Calabria could occur in just a few weeks' time, a senior weapons official told a parliamentary committee on Thursday.

The transfer in the port of Gioia Tauro, from a Danish ship to an American vessel, "will hopefully occur in early February...within the first half of the month," said Ahmet Üzümcü, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

At the same time, Premier Enrico Letta's government said allowing the transfer here is in line with Italy's commitment to international peace and security.

"This effort constitutes a practical and essential to guarantee the stability and security in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East," said the statement.

The mayor of Gioia Tauro, Renato Bellofiore, on Thursday said he was worried that the transfer will putting his community at risk.

Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi told parliament that 60 containers would be moved from the Danish cargo ship to the American MV Cape Ray using special carriageways, without being unloaded and stocked on land. The American ship will subsequently destroy the chemical weapons in international waters.