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Syria must hand over its chemical weapon by December 31.  The agenda as outlined by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), states that the weapons must be packed into 150 shipping containers, driven to the Syrian port city of Latakia and then loaded onto Norwegian and Danish cargo ships.  The weapons will then be transferred to an American vessel called the Cape Ray for destruction.  The Americans are not suppose to step foot in Syria.

But analysts are now leery that this can actually be carried out as planned.  Foreign Policy magazine is reporting that disposal equipment being installed on the Cape Ray has never been tested at sea. Furthermore, it is not known if the machines will work continuously over the next few months as needed.  The U.S. and its allies need to also ensure how they plan to keep the weapons from being stolen or damaged.

To that extent, Washington must find a country that will allow the ship from Latakia to land at one its ports where the weapons will be unloaded and transferred to Cape Ray.  The transfer can up to several days, which means the host country will have chemical weapons stored at its ports (albeit temporarily), presenting security concerns.  Currently talks are under way between the U.S. and Spain, Morocco and Italy about using its ports.

There is also the issue of how Syria will get the weapons to Latakia.  Syrian authorities requested armored vehicles to transport the weapons to the port, but to date, it yet to secure those vehicles.  There is also the issue of the internal conflict in Syria and how that will impact the truck routes en route to Latakia.

According to the negotiations, Syria's weapons are to be disposed of by the Spring of 2014.

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STAFF WRITER