News / Middle East

    UN Chief Wants Syrian Chemical Weapons Stockpile Destroyed

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Sept. 9, 2013.
    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Sept. 9, 2013.
    Margaret Besheer
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will urge the Security Council to demand that Syria transfer its chemical weapons stocks to areas in the country where they can be safely stored and destroyed. His call comes as Moscow urges Damascus to put its weapons under international control to avert a possible U.S. military strike.

    As the world awaits the report of a U.N. team of experts who visited Syria and took environmental and medical samples from the site of the August 21 suspected chemical weapons attack, the U.N. chief said Monday that he is already considering proposals he can make to the U.N. Security Council when he presents the team’s findings in the coming days.

    “I’m considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed,” said Ban.

    Ban said he has not yet received the report from U.N. team leader Ake Sellstrom, nor does he know what it will contain. But he said if it confirms the use of chemical weapons led to the deaths of hundreds of people on August 21 outside Damascus, then it would be an “abominable crime” to which the international community would have to respond.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Monday for the Syrian president to surrender control of "every single bit'' of his arsenal to the international community by the end of the week.

    Russia's foreign minister also proposed that Syria put its chemical weapons under international control to prevent a possible U.S. military reprisal. Reports quoting Syria’s foreign minister appear to welcome the offer.

    Paul Walker, program director at Green Cross International and an expert on chemical weapons, said it would be a very good idea for President Bashar al-Assad to declare his government’s chemical stockpiles and join the Geneva protocol banning their use.

    “I think it still would be a very positive step forward and might be the one open door left to President Assad to hold off a very serious military strike - which obviously would threaten the Assad regime, and certainly his chemical, military forces and command and control,” said Walker.

    Walker noted that moving such stockpiles is very hazardous work. “Part of it would depend to what extent their chemical agents are alive - in other words-- are they already prepared? Are they loaded into weapons? If they are it could be quite dangerous.”

    If the chemicals are separate from the weapons and haven’t been pre-mixed into a live agent, Walker said they still are toxic, but can be moved much more safely.

    He said that if Assad signs the convention against chemical weapons, he would be required to immediately declare all of his stockpiles. Then inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague would come and inventory the cache. After that the destruction program would begin.

    Walker cautions that this is a long, costly and complicated process. He points to the United States’ elimination of its own stockpiles, noting that 23 years into its destruction program, the U.S. has done away with only 90 percent of its chemical agents and still has 3,000 metric tons to go.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
    September 10, 2013 6:33 AM
    A good start. Perhaps, the security council can be brought together to start the process of getting rid of the chemical weapons. There is always going to be questions whether all the weapons have been destroyed. But, that is no reason not to pursue the strategy. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. But, if Syria continue to claim that they don't have any chemical weapons then the world will know the course of action to take. Of course, there are other countries who have more dangerous weapons which they don't admit. Nevertheless, if the world body can help rid of one big stock pile of chemical weapons without resorting to bombing, it should be a major start towards a process.

    by: Cough from: hellogoodbye
    September 09, 2013 7:35 PM
    This seems like a costly and dangerous job. Also the usa is aware of where the stockpiles are and the body language on Obama shown that its in the more classified documents of the locations. I would like to see how Syria will make it completely safe for UN workers to rid the country of the chemicals (that would have to be a complete ceasefire) and making sure Syria is honest on where the weapons are hidden. It would not surprise me that some have already moved across borders.

    by: Maithe from: Paris, France
    September 09, 2013 5:33 PM
    And what about biological weapons?... Don't you think Syria has stockpiles too? Probably yes....Very tricky to destroy them. Frightening.

    by: NVO from: USA
    September 09, 2013 5:10 PM
    Ok, Bon Key Monkey, from the head of the CORRUPT UN.....let's start with THE USA whom supplied the FSA rebels with the chemical weapons in the first and ALL OTHER instances!!!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.