OPCW director-general opens U.K. disarmament conference

Ambassador Ahmet uzumcu, the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, visited London on Thursday to open the 16th International Chemical Weapons Disarmament Conference.

Since 1998, the conference was held annually throughout the world to assess the global progress of chemical weapon destruction. This year's event is hosted on behalf of the U.K. Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory.

During his address, uzumcu said that nearly 81 percent of all declared Category I chemical weapons, 52 percent of Category II weapons and all Category III weapons are verified as destroyed by the OPCW.

"Before long, we will witness a historic occasion: the first time that an entire category of weapons of mass destruction is eliminated under international verification," uzumcu said. "But the Chemical Weapons Convention must remain as a permanent barrier against chemical weapons, and the ban against these weapons must therefore be seen not only as the convention but the norms which underpin it."

uzumcu said the OPCW will keep looking for opportunities to disseminate the norms of the convention to the general public. He encouraged states parties to host events around the world in 2014 to promote outreach and education.

While in London, uzumcu also held bilateral discussions with officials in the U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office and delivered a speech on the achievements and future challenges of the CWC at University College London.

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