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Syrian chemical arms 'won't touch Italian soil'

FM Bonino hails 'most important disarmament op' in decade

16 January, 16:17
Syrian chemical arms 'won't touch Italian soil' (see related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 16 - The transfer of Syrian chemical weapons from a Danish ship to an American one in the southern Italian port of Gioia Tauro would take place directly from vessel to vessel and not on Italian soil, Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi told parliament on Thursday.

The minister said 60 containers would be moved from the Danish cargo ship to the American MV Cape Ray using special carriageways, without first being unloaded and stocked on land. The American ship will subsequently destroy the chemical weapons in international waters. The operation is being carried out under a 2013 deal to destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal in what Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino described on Thursday as "the most important disarmament operation in the last 10 years". Meanwhile the director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, thanked Italy for its "generous contribution" by "making one of its ports available" for the operation. The decision to use the port of Gioia Tauro for the transfer has been met by concern and opposition from local administrators and some politicians.