UN Chief Ban Warns Assad's Syria against Use of Nuclear Weapons

World | December 7, 2012, Friday // 16:12|  views

General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon (L) speaks with refugees during his visit to the Islahiye Syrian refugee camp in Gaziantep, Turkey 07 December 2012. EPA/BGNES

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has declared that the potential use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to combat the revolt would be an "outrageous crime".

"If it is the case, then it will be an outrageous crime in the name of humanity," Ban told a news conference after visiting a Syrian refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Islahiye.

Ban expressed serious concerns over reports that the Syrian regime headed by embattled President Bashar al-Assad is planning to use chemical weapons against armed rebels attempting to topple his government, as cited by RTT.

A spokesman for the UN chief said on Thursday that Ban handed over a letter conveying his concerns over the possible use of chemical weapons to Syrian authorities on Tuesday.

In the letter, he urged the Syrian President to refrain from the use of any such weapons under any circumstances.

The Secretary-General also reminded the Syrian government about its fundamental responsibility to ensure the safety and security of any chemical weapon stockpiles.

Notably, Ban had conveyed his concerns over the issue in writing some months ago to Assad.

Ban also discussed the issue over the telephone on Thursday with Ahmet Uzumcu, Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that oversees the Convention aiming to eliminate the use, development, production and transfer of these deadly weapons.

Ban reiterated to the OPCW chief during their conversation that any use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences, the spokesman said.

Syria is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has been adopted by 188 countries. Apart from Syria, the seven other nations that have not yet joined the Convention are Angola, North Korea, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, Somalia and South Sudan.

Exact volumes of chemical weapons in the Syrian stockpile are not yet known. Nevertheless, the CIA has reportedly estimated that Syria has several hundred liters of chemical weapons, with hundreds of tons being produced annually.

There has been considerable concern that Syria's chemical weapons could fall into hostile hands, particularly Islamist insurgents fighting the government, or be used to defend the regime.

In July 2012, the UN chief had voiced concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, and urged the international community to ensure that no such weapons were used in the Syrian conflict.

But the Syrian regime dismissed international concerns over its chemical and biological weapons stockpile, insisting that they are secure. The government also stressed that it will use such weapons only in case of external aggression and never against its on citizens.

But recent intelligence reports suggested that the Assad regime was actively considering the use of chemical weapons against the rebels, who appear to be making steady progress against the Syrian military in the ongoing battle.

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Tags: Ban Ki-moon, Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, UN, Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, Syrian president, Syrian rebels, chemical weapons, WMDs, WMD, civil war, arab spring


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