Turkish national appointed head of chemical weapons prohibition organization

Ahmet Üzümcü has recently been appointed the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Üzümcü, the first Turkish national the become the chief of an international organization working in the security field, is the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations in Geneva and will begin his new, four-year term as director-general in July 2010. Member nations of the OPCW, which is headquartered in the Netherlands, unanimously elected Üzümcü  at its annual meeting.

Üzümcü  is a career diplomat and the former Turkish ambassador to Israel, one of only seven nations worldwide to have not joined the chemical weapons convention.

Üzümcü has said that getting Israel to join the organization will be one of his goals.

The remaining countries left to join OPCW include Egypt, Syria, Angola, North Korea, Myanmar and Somalia. Iraq was the last country to join and a plan is currently being drafted to eliminate that nation's chemical weapons.

OPCW was established 12 years ago and currently boasts 188 nations on its membership rolls. The organization has been responsible for the destruction of more than half of the chemical weapons in the world and, by 2012, its member states will be completely clear of chemical weapons.