Ban calls for chemical weapon elimination within five years

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to the states parties of the Chemical Weapons Convention on Monday to do everything they could to bring aboard the eight nations that have yet to sign on.

The CWC has 188 states parties with eight countries outside of the convention. The eight holdouts include Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Israel, Egypt, Angola and North Korea. Ban has repeatedly urged the eight nations to join the convention.

"I urge all of you who are in a position to do so to show political leadership and encouraging these countries to join the convention," Ban said. "Nothing can justify the possession of this heinous category of weapons of mass destruction. Nothing."

Ban made the statements at the third review conference of the states parties to the CWC in The Hague on Monday.

Ban said the CWC has helped to destroy 80 percent of declared chemical weapons stockpiles and he expressed hope that 100 percent will be destroyed within five years.

"We know that until the last stockpiles have been destroyed - and until the convention is binding worldwide - the threat posed by chemical weapons will remain," Ban said. "Look no further than today's headlines."

Ban referred to the recent allegations that chemical weapons were used in the Syrian conflict, during which at least 70,000 people have been killed and more than three million displaced since the conflict began in March 2011.

"Let me reiterate my conviction: As long as chemical weapons exist, so, too, does the risk of their use - by accident or design," Ban said. "There are no right hands for the wrong weapons."

Ban called on the parties to build on the CWC's achievements, forge a stronger partnership with the chemical industry to address safety and security issues and make full use of the treaty's monitoring and verification mechanism.

"With that expertise, your (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) can play a constructive role in the process of establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction," Ban said. "Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere hope that that important conference convene without further delay."