Building a World Free of Chemical Weapons

The accession of Syria on September 14, 2013 to the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is a major step forward to universalizing the abolition regime which, for the first time in history, bans a whole class of weapons of mass destruction.  CWC is an arms control agreement that outlaws the production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. And today’s United Nations release of its inspection report on the possible use of nerve agents in Syria on August 21st only underlines the importance of this historic move. Dr. Paul Walker, Director of the Environmental Security and Sustainability Program of Green Cross International and Global Green USA, stated:  “United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s condemnation this morning of the use of deadly sarin nerve agent in Syria almost a month ago is very important to deter any further use of such inhumane and indiscriminate weapons.  The UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic has now shown that sarin agent was used in very large quantities against innocent civilians as they slept in their beds, and was delivered by rocket attack from northwest Damascus, a region under control of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.”

The Environmental Security and Sustainability Program has worked for almost twenty years now to help bring every country under the CWC and to strengthen the multilateral regime’s inspection and verification operations so that no chemical weapons capabilities remain, and so that chemical weapons never reemerge in international affairs.  Walker added: “Syria’s accession to the treaty regime makes it the 190th country to join, with only six more remaining outside the regime – Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea, and South Sudan.  Assad must now complete his declaration to the CWC implementing agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and allow the OPCW inspectors full and unfettered access to his whole chemical weapons program so that it can be locked down and destroyed, under the watchful eye of inspectors, in the coming months and years.”

Global Green USA applauds the leadership of both the United States and Russia for helping bring this historic event about and further urges Syria’s neighboring states, Israel and Egypt, to follow in the footsteps of Syria in joining the CWC and helping to build a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical, and biological.

See additional thoughts from Paul on this issue at How to secure Syria's chemical weapons and How to destroy chemical weapons.