A Danish freighter carrying Syrian chemical weapons arrived at a port in southern Italy on Wednesday ahead of their destruction at sea.
The weapons are to be transferred to a US military ship and then destroyed in international waters in the final phase of a program to rid Syria of its chemical arms stockpile, AFP reported.
The port of Gioia Tauro has stepped up security for the shipment’s arrival, sealing off access roads and barring entry to any non-authorized people, while a military helicopter flew overhead.
The chemical agents will be transferred from the Danish ship the Ark Futura to the US cargo vessel MV Cape Ray and then destroyed. Cape Ray will sail out to international waters and destroy nearly half the total load of 1,300 metric tons (1,433 short tons).
It will take 60 days to neutralize the chemicals safely and cleanly, the Pentagon said.
The rest of the mustard gas and methylphosphonyl difluoride, a chemical used to make nerve agents sarin and soman, will be destroyed at plants in the United States and Europe.
The resulting hazardous waste will be further processed in Germany and Finland.
Syria shipped out its stockpile of chemical weapons under the terms of a UN-backed and US-Russia brokered agreement last year.