U.N. and OPCW join forces to oversee destruction of chemical weapons in Syria

The United Nations Security Council recently announced the first-ever joint mission between the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to tackle the task of overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed the idea of the joint mission, which will deploy up to 100 experts from the U.N. and OPCW to oversee a multi-phase operation to eliminate all chemical weapons, materials and equipment in Syria by June 20, 2014.

Ban decided to involve the OPCW in the mission after the Assad regime signed the Chemical Weapons Convention following a confirmed chemical weapon attack in August that killed hundreds of Syrian people near Damascus. Ban said he was very pleased to see the U.N. and OPCW reach a decision to work together so quickly.

"This is a sign of the international commitment to eliminate chemical weapons," Ban said. "We have a very tight deadline, but the United Nations is committed to work closely with the OPCW to get the job done. And I am just as committed and determined to make progress in the political and humanitarian tracks for the sake of the Syrian people."

An advance team of approximately 60 experts have already been deployed to Syria and begun working. The team reports that "good progress" is being made. By the end of this month the first evaluation will take place; all chemical weapons production facilities in the nation must be disabled by this time.