Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal can be dismantled as quickly as possible, even without a full ceasefire, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.
“This process of verifying and destroying the chemical weapons can be done expeditiously if there is a political will,” he said at a press conference, which is dominated by questions regarding the Monday report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
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When asked about whether the work can be pulled off without a full ceasefire, the UN chief voiced confidence but also acknowledged “it is a very difficult process.”
“I believe that could be done,” he said, citing the work done by UN inspectors who, in the absence of a full ceasefire, had made several field trips and managed to take evidences of the Aug. 21 chemical attacks in Syria. “There was an agreement that during the time of their actual investigation, for example, five or six hours a day. There was (a) ceasefire.”
Syria last week officially agreed to join the international convention on banning chemical weapons and is expected to assume its membership on Oct. 14, a major step in the international efforts to end the Syrian civil war of more than two years, which has killed more 100,000 people and displaced more than 7 million residents.
“First and foremost, the Security Council should take firm action on this as soon as possible so this (verification and dismantling) process can begin without any delay,” Ban said.