OPCW deputy director-general participates in Amman Security Colloquium

Grace Asirwatham, the deputy director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, recently participated in the Amman Security Colloquium.

Asirwatham attended the colloquium on the weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East and its impact on global non-proliferation efforts in Amman, Jordan, on November 13 and November 14. During a keynote speech, Asirwatham noted how the OPCW rose to the challenge of destroying Syria's chemical weapons despite compressed deadlines.

"Never in its history has the OPCW had to confront such an enormous undertaking - overseeing the destruction of a major chemical arsenal amidst civil war and within compressed timeframes," Asirwatham said. "But our progress so far has only served to reinforce our confidence."

Asirwatham said the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons is significant for the future of disarmament in the region.

Asirwatham also said that the accession of two Middle East states that are outside of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Israel and Egypt, would send a powerful signal and multiply the security benefits from the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal.

"At a time when we have been graphically reminded of the horrors of chemical weapons, and when we are savoring the opportunity to remove a major chemical arsenal, history will judge us poorly if we fail to make the global ban on these brutal weapons a truly universal norm," Asirwatham said.

Asirwatham participated in a panel discussion on the obstacles and opportunities related to a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. She also briefed journalists on CWC and OPCW activities.