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Ban calls for destruction of Syrian chemical weapons stocks

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 00:40

United Nations: Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for the creation of UN supervised zones in Syria where the country`s chemical weapons can be safely stored and destroyed.
Ban told reporters he may propose the zones to the UN Security Council if UN inspectors confirm the chemical weapons use in an attempt to overcome the 15-nation council`s "embarrassing paralysis" over the two and half years of conflict in Syria.

"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."

"And I urge again [that] Syria should become party to the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons]," Ban told reporters in his first interaction on his return from St Petersburg, Russia where he had gone for the G-20 Summit.

His announcement came after Russia`s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international supervision to "avoid military strikes" that are being considered by the US and its allies. The proposal was welcomed by his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem.

The UN head said "I have already been considering certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council when I present the investigation team`s report. For a number of days already, I have been considering our proposals in particular."

He said it would be proper for Syria to hand over control of its stock pile of chemical weapons to the international community.

"Then I am sure that the international community will [take] very swift action to make sure that chemical weapons stocks will be stored safely and will be destroyed. I do not have any doubt and worry about that.

"First and foremost, Syria must agree positively to this," he said.

Ban said the UN Security Council needs to give a united response and act if the inspectors report concluded that chemical weapons was used in Syria.

Noting that the two and half years of conflict in Syria have produced only "embarrassing paralysis" in the Security Council, Ban said that if the UN inspectors` report confirm the use of chemical weapons, this would surely be something around which the Security Council could unite in response.

"I am already considering certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council when presenting the investigation team`s report," Ban said.

Noting that he has not yet received the report from Dr Ake Sellstrom, nor does he knows what it will contain, Ban said he does know there has been significant speculation regarding a major use of chemical agents on August 21 leading to the death of hundreds of civilians.

"Should this be confirmed by the report from Dr Sellstrom and his investigation team, then this would be an abominable crime, and the international community would certainly have to do something about it," he said.

"There would be a need for accountability, both to bring to justice those who used them -- should Dr Sellstrom confirm their use -- and to deter anyone else from using these abhorrent methods of warfare," he said.

"There would be a need for greater security regarding any chemical weapons stocks. And there remains an urgent need for the international conference in Geneva and a cessation of hostilities," Ban said.


First Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 00:40
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