24 March 2014 - Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü met this morning with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in The Hague to attend the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). The meeting was held at the OPCW Headquarters.
The Director-General discussed with the Secretary of State the ongoing OPCW-UN Joint Mission in Syria. The mission was established following the U.S.-Russia framework agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme, which was agreed between Mr Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last September in Geneva. The U.S. has provided substantial material support for the removal of chemical weapons out of Syria and a maritime vessel, the Cape Ray, which has been outfitted with two hydrolysis systems to neutralise a large portion of Syrian chemicals at sea.
The Director-General commended the United States for its invaluable support for the ongoing mission in Syria, and briefed the Secretary of State on the schedule for destroying the chemicals. He stressed that ongoing engagement by the United States at all levels will be vital to the success of the mission.
In his remarks, Mr Kerry noted that 50% of the Syrian chemicals have now been removed from the country, which he termed “significant, but the real significance will be when all the chemical weapons are out”. He praised the OPCW “for its expertise, for their commitment, their courage and their willingness to help get the job done.”
“Foreign Minister Lavrov and I relied very heavily on the capacity of the OPCW as we negotiated a removal of the weapons from Syria,” he said. “We have great admiration for the work done here, quietly and over a long period of time, on a steady basis, and I think everyone who works here should be very proud that a weapon of mass destruction will be taken out a country for the first time in its entirety in this kind of arrangement. And we all look forward to achieving that goal.”
The NSS is taking place today at the World Forum located next to the OPCW’s Technical Secretariat, which has been temporarily converted to house part of the international media corps covering the summit. The meeting with Mr Kerry is one of a series the Director-General will have this week with foreign leaders attending the NSS. The Director-General will attend the summit as a VIP observer.