U.S. says chemical weapon destruction now up to Syria

It is now up to the Syrian government to ensure that its chemical weapon program is destroyed, an adviser to the U.S. First Committee delegation said on Thursday.

Katharine Crittenberger, an adviser to the U.S. delegation, made the remarks in New York before the U.N. during a thematic discussion on other weapons of mass destruction. Crittenberger said it is the goal of the U.S. to completely exclude the potential use of chemical weapons.

"That is why the United States took the action that led to the historic U.S.-Russia framework and subsequently the adoption on September 27 of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Executive Council decision and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2118 that imposes legally binding obligations on Syria to cooperate fully in the rapid elimination of its chemical weapons program under stringent verification procedures," Crittenberger said.

Crittenberger said the initial stages of chemical weapon destruction are a major step forward from Syria's prior denial of possessing chemical weapons in the first place. She said the OPCW reported that the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons started on October 6 and the OPCW and other international bodies will see if the Syrians are prepared to allow such efforts to move forward.

"It is now up to the Syrian government, and there is clearly more work to be done," Crittenberger said. "The international community will be paying close attention to whether the Syrian regime is abiding by all of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, OPCW Executive Council decision and UNSCR 2118."

Crittenberger praised the work of Ahmet uzumcu, the director general of the OPCW, and Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, and their staffs for their work on the Syrian matter.