(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "significant progress" has been achieved in elimination of Syria's chemical weapons programme, and demanded that Damascus work "as quickly as possible" to reach a "successful conclusion." In his monthly report to the Security Council on the issue on Monday, Ban said that as of last week, the total figure for removal and in-country destruction had reached 92.5 percent, adding that it is "critical" for Syria to maintain its "commitment and determination" to complete the remaining 7.5 percent on time.
The Council wants Syria to meet the June 30 deadline to get rid of all its banned weapons.
Ban noted that the continuing volatility of the security situation in the country "only underscores the importance of expediting the removal of the remaining chemical weapons material and the destruction of remaining parts of its chemical weapons programme." He took the opportunity to urge member states to "use their influence on all of the parties" to the Syrian conflict to abstain from any activity which could directly or indirectly impact the completion of the removal and in-country destruction activities.
Ban said the "timely completion" of the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons programme "will make a modest, but hopefully meaningful, contribution to peace and security in the country and the wider region." On the recent reports of the allegations regarding the use of chlorine gas in parts of Syria, Ban expressed concern and said "all necessary steps should be taken to establish the facts." The Council is mulling a request to have the case investigated. UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told the daily press briefing today that it is for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to decide on the issue.
In a video message marking the 10th anniversary of the Council unanimous adoption of resolution 1540, which seeks to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their acquisition by non-State actors, such as terrorists, Ban said the use of poison gas in Syria was an "alarming reminder" of the continuing threat of weapons of mass destruction.
He added that it is "particularly important" to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
In the meantime, Dujarric confirmed press reports that the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would be in New York on May 2, and is scheduled to meet with the Ban and other senior UN officials. He is also scheduled to brief the Council while he's in New York. He may also brief the General Assembly.