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

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora