Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be joined [by] Mr. Ahmed Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
The Convention now has 188 States Parties. Three-quarters of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles have been eliminated.
But eight states are not yet party to the Convention and the overall threat remains a serious global concern.
One of those States is the Syrian Arab Republic.
I have expressed grave concerns with statements made by representatives of the Syrian Government regarding the existence of chemical weapons and their possible use. I have also personally conveyed these concerns directly to President Assad in writing several weeks ago.
I once again emphasize the fundamental responsibility of the Syrian Government to ensure the safety and security of any such stockpiles. The use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences.
Chemical weapons simply have no place in the 21st century. Progress in this vital area will help generate momentum to meet our goal of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction.
The time has come.
I thank Member States and the OPCW for their commitment and leadership on this vital issue.
Thank you very much.