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Removal of Declared Chemical Materials from Syria

Removal of Declared Chemical Materials from Syria

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 23, 2014

Today, the international maritime task force completed the critical mission of removing the last 8 percent of declared chemical weapons precursors from Syria. With this step, 100 percent of the declared chemicals are out of war-torn Syria. We congratulate the OPCW-UN Joint Mission and the entire international coalition, which operated under dangerous conditions to remove more than 1,000 tons of declared chemical weapons materials, a daunting undertaking that grew out of the agreement we reached last year between the United States and Russia. Many of our allies and partners, particularly Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy, and the United Kingdom, are playing an essential role in the removal and destruction effort. In the coming weeks, the United States stands ready to begin destruction of a large amount of Syria’s chemical weapons precursors. This unprecedented mission, deploying unique American capabilities, will ensure that they will not be used against the Syrian people or against us, our allies, or our partners, in the region or beyond.

However, it should not be lost on anyone that our work is not finished. Very serious issues remain and must be resolved. We remain deeply concerned by the reports of systematic use of chlorine gas in opposition areas; the Syrian regime has dragged their feet on destroying production facilities; the international community has questions with regard to Syria’s declaration that must be adequately answered; and we are appalled at the death toll from the regime's continued attacks on its own people, as well the grave humanitarian crisis.

But, this is also an important moment to take stock of what has been achieved: the removal of all declared chemicals; verification of the destruction of declared production, mixing, and filling equipment; verification of the destruction of all declared chemical weapon delivery vehicles, including missile warheads and aerial bombs; and diminishing the strategic threat posed by the Syrian chemical weapons program to our allies and partners in the region.

The world will never forget the loss of the more than 1,400 innocent Syrians senselessly killed with chemical weapons on August 21, 2013. For 100 years, the international community has deemed the use of these weapons far beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct. The worst of the weapons are gone, but the despicable regime and the crisis it has created remain and require our collective focus.

ENDS

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