Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, and Ahmet Üzümcü, the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, have warned that Syria may have chemical weapons.
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that Syria has an integrated air defense system and biological and chemical weapons, Reuters reports.
In the last 11 months, a crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in the country has led to the deaths of over 7,500 civilians at the hands of Syrian security forces.
“On Syria, the secretary-general and the director-general noted with concern the reports on the possible existence of chemical weapons in the country,” Martin Nesirky, a U.N. spokesperson said, according to Reuters. “Those concerns are entirely understandable.”
According to Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, Washington is also concerned that Syria may have weapons of mass destruction.
“This is a topic that’s being discussed actively with Syria’s neighbors and with our allies in Europe and elsewhere,” Feltman said, according to Reuters. “We don’t have any indication at this point that these stockpiles have fallen out of the control of the Syrian government, but it’s one of the reasons why a managed transition is so important. We’re watching this. We’re watching it carefully.”
The OPCW monitors compliance with the anti-chemical weapons convention, of which Syria is not a signatory.