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UK to pay Veolia to destroy Syrian arms chemicals

Published on Jan 17, 2014 4:26 AM

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain said on Thursday it will pay France's Veolia Environnement to incinerate 150 tonnes of Syrian poison gas precursors in northern England, the first deal for a private firm to help destroy Syria's chemical arms programme in the UK.

Facing the threat of US air strikes, the government of Bashar al-Assad last year promised to dismantle its chemical arsenal, telling the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) it had 1,300 tonnes of such weapons.

Foreign powers have scrambled to find countries to destroy the chemicals. The most toxic are first to be processed on board a U.S. ship. Less dangerous precursor chemicals are to be destroyed commercially at industrial facilities.

Britain agreed in December to destroy part of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile and to escort Scandinavian ships transporting the toxic cargo.

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