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Chemical Weapons

WORLD
October 18, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
A day after the United Nations elected Saudi Arabia to a prestigious seat on the Security Council, the Saudi leadership refused to accept the position and lashed out at the world body for "double standards" and failure to protect peace. It was a stunning and unprecedented rebuke of the U.N. Security Council, diplomats and academics said, especially after the recent breakthrough in getting the unanimous approval of the 15-member council on a plan to rid Syria of its chemical weapons.
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WORLD
October 17, 2013 | By Ramin Mostaghim and Patrick J. McDonnell
TEHRAN - Shahriyar Khatri was among many here welcoming news that this year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international agency that oversees a global ban on toxic armaments. "I'm very glad that people finally know more about the OPCW and its important work," said Khatri, a toxicologist and physician who works with a government-backed group raising awareness about the plight of chemical attack victims of Iran's 1980-88 war with neighboring Iraq.
WORLD
October 16, 2013 | By Raja Abdulrahim
Civilians fleeing a besieged town near Syria's capital were attacked by government forces early Wednesday, leaving many dead and others wounded, activists and residents said. Activists in Muadhamiya had struck a deal with the Syrian government, with the help of humanitarian organizations and individuals, to allow up to 2,000 civilians to leave the town. But as the women, children and elderly walked toward buses near the town's western entrance, they came under mortar attack from the government's nearby 4th Armored Division, activists said.
WORLD
October 16, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - Inspectors have visited almost half of Syria's declared chemical weapons sites as part of an ambitious plan to destroy the nation's lethal stockpiles, an international watchdog agency said Wednesday. A team of experts in Syria has now “concluded verification activities” at 11 sites, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement. All “were well within government-held territory,” said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Hague-based agency overseeing the undertaking.
WORLD
October 15, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - For much of Syria's civil war, President Bashar Assad has been a man in retreat. Rebels control vast stretches of his country. A little more than a month ago, he faced the prospect of U.S. military strikes that might have finally tipped the military balance. But the U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Syria's chemical arms, which headed off a U.S. missile barrage, has changed that. Assad is now an essential partner in a process that will last until at least mid-2014, and could drag on much longer.
WORLD
October 11, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - Before the U.S.-Russia agreement was crafted last month to rid Syria of chemical weapons, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry publicly downplayed the significance of the U.N. investigative team on the ground in Syria. The team, headed by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, included a sizable contingent of experts from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which on Friday was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On Aug. 30, as he laid out a grim case for airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for Damascus' alleged use of chemical weapons, Kerry said that the access for U.N. inspectors on the scene was “restricted and controlled” - allegations never made publicly by the U.N. or the disarmament experts in Syria.
WORLD
October 11, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON - Hardly anyone knew it existed before last month. Its work has been criticized and its employees shot at. Bigger names, including that of a teenage girl, were thought to be ahead in line for the world's most prestigious award. But the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the watchdog group now at the forefront of the effort to divest Syria of its chemical arsenal, was declared the recipient Friday of the Nobel Peace Prize. It was the second year in a row that the prize committee decided to honor an institution and not a person, following last year's choice of the European Union.
WORLD
October 11, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON - The head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, said the honor would provide a welcome boost to the group's aim of ridding the world of chemical arms. Ahmet Uzumcu, the OPCW's director-general, also expressed hope that the award could help bring an end to the deadly civil war in Syria, where his organization's inspectors are trying to destroy the government's arsenal of chemical weapons even as fighting rages.
OPINION
October 10, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Even before his on-again, off-again threat to punish the government of Syria for the use of chemical weapons, President Obama was criticized for what many saw as a halting and incoherent policy toward the civil war in that country. Advocates of muscular U.S. intervention noted that Obama had said it was time for President Bashar Assad to step aside, but he had declined to weaken Assad's position either by establishing a no-fly zone or by providing opposition forces with significant military hardware.
WORLD
October 9, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - Inspectors working under a tight deadline to destroy Syria's extensive chemical arsenal are off to an encouraging start but may need limited cease-fires to complete their task in the midst of a raging civil war, the head of the international agency overseeing the effort said Wednesday. The United Nations' stated goal of eliminating Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year is challenging but “not unrealistic,” Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told a televised news conference held in the Hague, where the international agency is based.
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