Wien, 19. March 2013 Press release

Lopatka: "Chemical weapons are a potential danger for civilians in Syria"

The Austrian State Secretary demands universalisation of the Chemical Weapons Convention

Vienna, 19 March 2013 – "78% of the stock of chemical weapons world-wide has been destroyed over the past 15 years under the supervision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). There are only a few more countries missing that would make a world without chemical weapons complete. Syria has admitted to possessing chemical weapons. The use of these weapons would be fatal and a blatant violation of international law", State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said after a meeting with OPCW's Director General Ahmet Üzümcü.

"According to information of OPCW, Syria has more than 1000 tons of chemical weapons at its disposal. Apart from the risk that the Assad regime make use of these chemical weapons, it is imperative that these weapons are prevented from falling into the wrong hands in the course of the fighting and from becoming a danger beyond control for civilians", Lopatka continued.

With its 188 signatory states, the Chemical Weapons Convention applies virtually everywhere in the world. The Convention outlaws the production, transfer, purchase, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons. The Convention entered into force in 1997 and since then thousands of inspections have been carried in the member countries to monitor the Convention’s implementation. "We request the eight states that have not yet joined the Convention to do so and to shun these outstandingly cruel weapons to finally create a world without this weapon of mass destruction ", the State Secretary concluded.

Egypt, Angola, the Democratic People's Party of North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria have not yet signed the Chemical Weapons Convention. Ratification through Israel and Myanmar is still outstanding.

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