The world will be a safer place if the surprising agreement that led to the promised destruction of Syria’s stockpile of deadly chemical weapons can pave the way for the banning of such weapons from the entire Middle East and eventually the world.
The next move is up to Israel and Egypt.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad surprised the world in September when he agreed to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention barring the use of such weapons and to permit the supervised destruction of all his chemical weapon stocks. The move was designed to halt an expected U.S. bombing campaign against his country after al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people in the Syrian civil war.
While things could certainly go south in a Damascus minute, so far Syria has carried out its pledge to declare the amounts, types and locations of its lethal chemicals. Inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have confirmed the declaration and placed the materials under seal, and also destroyed Syria’s means of producing new chemical weapons. The group also said last week that it had approved a road map for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons by the middle of next year.
A total of 190 nations have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, while Israel and Myanmar have signed but not ratified the treaty. Ratifying the treaty would require that Israel declare if it has chemical weapons and – if so – to identify the locations, types and amounts of the weapons, just as Syria has done. Israel would then have to prepare a plan for the supervised destruction of any chemical weapons it has under the watchful eyes of the OPCW.
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This op-ed was first published at CNN on Nov. 20, 2013
Photo courtesy of JBLM PAO via Flickr