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The chemical disarmament in Syria will be very expensive. Nobody knows how much exactly, even though the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) inspectors have already started their mission in the field. Supposing that indeed one-thousand tons of material need to be destroyed, well-informed sources note that the cost will be influenced by the tight schedule that the international organizations have outlined for the operation, which, in any case, “cannot begin before January.”

Where and how Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons will be eliminated must also be decided. If it is to be done in Syria, safe areas have to be located, which is a difficult task in a country at war. The sources explain that, in any case, it wouldn't make much sense to move the material from the sites where it is now (apparently, 45 different ones).

Therefore, keeping in mind that they have to proceed within six months, as agreed, and considering the use of mobile incinerators (which cost about two million euros each), which a high official of one of the members states of the OPCW told WikiLao on condition of anonymity “in theory, those machines can burn 300 kilograms of mustard gas a day.” Certainly, they cannot be expected to work full out for six months, without factoring in possible interruptions due to technical problems . If one considers then an average of 100 kilograms of substance destroyed daily, they would need approximately fifty incinerators to meet the mid-2014 deadline (costing around 100 million euros).

Then there is the question of human resources.The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has around 150 technicians. According to WikiLao's sources, to dispose of Assad's weapons in six months, at least one-thousand technicians of various kinds are needed. And they obviously need to be paid, and protected. How this will be done is still being evaluated, but it will certainly have a cost.

An overall cost of half a billion euros is considered a “sufficiently coherent” estimate for the operation, even though exact information is still lacking. 

Money; a lot of money is needed.

The accelerated time – imposed by the agreement made between the U.S. and Russia to avoid an American military intervention – is forcing all the countries who want to, to resort to out-of-budget expenses, and then they will see.
Both the U.S. and Germany immediately promised to allocate 2 million euros. The UK has offered three million. and China says they “are also ready.” Russia immediately declared that its technicians are available, and announced a maxi-financing between 150 and 200 million euros.

A trust fund will be established to deal with the expenses.

(Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

October 1, 2013