The Pentagon said Tuesday it had made progress in destroying Syrian chemical weapons, saying specialists on a US military ship had neutralized "100 percent" of a precursor used to make lethal Sarin gas.
After a global outcry over deadly chemical attacks in a Damascus suburb last year that may have killed as many as 1,400 people, President Bashar al-Assad's regime agreed to an international plan to destroy its stockpile.
"I am pleased to announce that the crew aboard Cape Ray has completed neutralization of 100 percent of the sarin precursor aboard the ship, which amounts to about 581 metric tons neutralized," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.
He added that the crew is now beginning to neutralize 19.8 tons of sulfur mustard.
The destruction of these agents by hydrolysis began in early July and, according to the Pentagon, should be completed by the end of August.
With no country ready to accept shipments of the most lethal chemical agents, the United States proposed destroying the chemicals at sea using two "portable" hydrolysis units.
The process calls for mixing the chemicals in sealed containers with thousands of gallons of hot water along with sodium hydroxide or other "reagents" that help break down the toxicity of the chemical.
The resulting effluent, which is the equivalent to industrial waste, will be transported to plants on land for disposal.
Officials say none of the chemicals or waste will be dumped at sea.
Other chemical agents from Syria are being destroyed on land at special facilities in Britain, Finland and the United States.