Washington: US President Barack Obama has congratulated the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to rid the world of chemical arms.
The UN-backed global chemical weapons watchdog, currently involved in the destruction of Syria`s poison gas stockpiles, was awarded the prize yesterday as the Nobel Committee praised it for its "extensive work" in eliminating chemical weapons.
Obama congratulated the OPCW and said it reinforced the world community`s commitment to the international prohibition on the use of chemical weapons, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
"The President congratulated the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and obviously thinks that there is an enormous amount of good work being done around the world on behalf of peace and all of it should be recognised," he said.
Since its establishment 16 years ago, the OPCW has stood at the forefront of the international community`s efforts to verifiably eliminate some of the world`s most dangerous weapons, Carney said.
"Today`s award recognises that commitment, and reinforces the trust and confidence the world has placed in the OPCW, Director-General Ahmed Uzumcu, and the courageous OPCW experts and inspectors taking on the unprecedented challenge of eliminating Syria`s chemical weapons programme," Carney said.
The OPCW was founded to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention signed on January 13, 1993, a treaty with 189 members representing more than 98 per cent of the world`s population.
"The US strongly supports the OPCW, including its joint work with the United Nations, to ensure that Syria`s chemical weapons stockpiles are placed under international control and ultimately destroyed," the White House Press Secretary said.
Under the terms of a UN Security Council resolution, Syria`s chemical stockpiles must be destroyed by mid-2014.
"Today, we again call on all nations to work to bring to an end the conflict that has cost the lives of more than 100,000 Syrians, and to support the OPCW`s efforts in the hope that future generations can live in a world free from the horrors of chemical weapons," Carney said.
The OPCW was not among the front-runners for the prize until the eve of the announcement.
Teenage Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai and Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege had been among the favourites for this year`s prize.
The USD 1.25 million prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10, the death anniversary of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the awards in his 1895 will.