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

    Greenpeace Leak: US-EU Trade Deal Would Favor Corporations

    Activist group leaks classified documents to 'shine a light' on talks that could create the world's largest bilateral trade and investment pact

    Video Ethiopia's Drought Takes Toll on Children

    East African country’s crops failed in 2015, creating food shortages for 10 million – including 6 million children whose development may be compromised

    What Your First Name Reveals About Who You Vote For

    People named Chad are more likely to be Republicans and Jonathans are usually Democrats

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora