News / Middle East

UN Chief Calls Syria Weapons Mission 'Dangerous'

FILE - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
FILE - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during a news conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
VOA News
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling for a 100-person joint mission to oversee the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons program, an extremely hazardous task he said would be made even more dangerous by continued fighting in an active war zone.

Underlining his concerns, Syrian government war planes Tuesday launched airstrikes against opposition forces in northwestern Idlib province, pushing back against a rebel operation targeting two key military bases there.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Ban said the mission would be jointly staffed by personnel from the United Nations and The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The team would be based in Damascus with a staging and training base in Cyprus.

OPCW Head Ahmet Uzumcu said Tuesday that Syria had made "a constructive beginning for what will nonetheless be a long and difficult process." He said the global chemical weapons watchdog would send a second team to Syria to bolster its efforts.

Ban said the international community's aim of destroying Syria's chemical weapons program by mid-2014 will require "an operation the likes of which, quite simply, have never been tried before," with greater operational and security risks because of the speed required.

He also said that "without sustained, genuine commitment by the Syrian authorities, the joint mission will fail in its objectives."

OPCW experts are already overseeing work in Syria to dismantle chemical weapons production equipment. That is due to be completed by November 1. The final stage involves destroying Syria's existing 1,000-metric ton chemical arsenal.

Ban's plan would keep OPCW experts leading the technical part of the mission inspecting facilities and overseeing Syria's demolition efforts. United Nations staff would coordinate with the Syrian government and opposition, while handling security, logistics and communications.

The mission would need the approval of the Security Council, which is due to discuss the proposal later this week.

The team would be deployed for less than a year, with a multi-phase plan for ridding Syria of chemical weapons by the middle of 2014 as outlined in a Security Council resolution last month.

  • Men search for casualties inside a damaged car after what activists say was an air strike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hammouriyeh, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Smoke rises from a mortar shell impact during heavy fighting between opposition fighters and the Syrian army at the frontline in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Opposition fighters prepare for battle during an attack on the Wadi al-Deef military post at the frontline in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Opposition fighters prepare mortars during an attack in the Wadi al-Deef military post at the frontline in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • A U.N. vehicle transporting a team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons returns to a hotel in Damascus, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Workers prepare food for distribution to residents and those displaced in the city of Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • Residents carry buckets as wait for their turn to receive free meals from a soup kitchen in Raqqa, Syria, Oct. 7, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he peeks out from a damaged shop in Deir al-Zor, Oct. 6, 2013.
  • Mohammed al-Karaz, a Free Syrian Army fighter who said he lost one of his legs during the recent violence, uses his crutches to walk through a damaged street in the al-Soukhour neighborhood of Aleppo, Oct 5, 2013.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tony Bellchambers from: London UK
October 08, 2013 1:18 PM
When will the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), send inspectors to Israel?

It would seem strangely dangerous and partisan, to say the least, to insist on removing weapons of mass destruction from one Middle Eastern state whilst leaving unknown quantities of nuclear and chemical weapons in the state next door!

Perhaps President Obama could explain his rationale and the illogical reasoning behind this glaring omission that makes a regional nuclear conflict ever more likely?

On second thoughts, perhaps that question should be directed at the actual foreign-policy decision-maker, AIPAC.

Upon further consideration, perhaps we should ask the person who directs AIPAC, Mr Binyamin Netanyahu. OMG! That would mean asking Israel if it's OK for it to be the only secret nuclear weapons state in the world and a non-party to the Chemical & Biological Weapons Conventions! I cannot imagine what they would say.

But wait! I do know! They would say these nuclear and chemical WMD are a deterrent. But the purpose of any deterrent is to ensure that your WMD can and will be used, if considered necessary. And that is why Israel is the most dangerous threat to world peace in this century.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid