Kaag asks for international support of UN-OPCW Joint Mission

Special Coordinator to the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations Sigrid Kaag announced on Wednesday that Syrian chemical weapon destruction is underway but additional support is needed.

"The functional destruction of critical facilities and weaponry has taken place," Kaag said. "We're in full swing to prepare for the removal of the most critical chemical agents out of the country."

While the mission to destroy Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons is underway, Kaag said the deadlines of the Joint Mission are strict. She asked for support from the international community to help contribute towards the cause.

"There are deadlines that are set that are quite ambitious," Kaag said. "They're very stringent, but we are getting as ready as we possibly can so the Syrian Arab Republic - the Government - can fulfill its commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention."

The Joint Mission is tasked with the entire elimination of Syria's chemical weapon stockpile by next June. Phase III of the mission is set to begin this month and requires special trucks, packing materials, containers and logistical and training support.

"Above all, the security conditions in country are such that it's an ongoing concern and it could also at any time derail our ability to meet deadlines," Kaag said.

The Syrian conflict, which began more than two years ago, is still ongoing and threatens Joint Mission personnel. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ending the conflict diplomatically is a top priority for the U.N.