BBC News reports: Syria has been given until the middle of 2014 to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.
But in a country torn apart by civil war, the disposal process is likely to be fraught with difficulties. So how will it work?
Different techniques are used for destroying chemical munitions and chemical agents, but most methods involve either:
- Incineration at very high temperatures to destroy the toxicity of the chemicals, or
- Neutralisation of the chemicals by the addition of water and a product like caustic soda.
Destroying chemical weapons, armed with explosives, carries extra risks. One solution is the use of mobile destruction units, which can be moved into place relatively quickly and therefore avoid the dangers of transporting live weapons through a warzone.
Some of these mobile units destroy chemical agents by surrounding them with explosives and placing them in an armour-plated chamber, known as a “bang box”. The explosion destroys the munition and the chemical agent.
The US military has developed a mobile unit, called the Explosive Destruction System (EDS), which uses chemicals to neutralise the toxic agent. It has been used to destroy more than 1,700 items in the US since 2001 and can handle up to six weapons at a time. [Continue reading…]