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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More