Austrian diplomat says Syrian chemical arsenal a danger

A top Austrian diplomat recently said Syria's chemical weapons stockpile poses a threat to the country's civilian population.

Austrian State Secretary for the Foreign Ministry Reinhold Lopatka said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a disaster and a flagrant violation of international law. Lopatka made the comments following a meeting with Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Ahmed Uzumcu, according to Xinhua.

Syria is one of only eight holdouts from nation's belonging to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the manufacture, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling and use of chemical warfare agents. The CWC currently has 188 states parties as members.

Lopatka noted that over the past decade and a half, the OCPW has overseen the elimination of approximately 78 percent of the world's chemical arms, Xinhua reports.

Syrian state media recently reported that 15 people were killed when opposition fighters launched a rocket filled with noxious chemical agents. The report was not verified, but marks the first instance when the Syrian government has accused the rebels of using banned weapons.

The United States responded by announcing it has seen no evidence showing that rebel forces had used a chemical weapon.