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2013年10月25日 (金)

シリア化学兵器 廃棄には国際支援が不可欠だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 25, 2013
Intl assistance vital for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons
シリア化学兵器 廃棄には国際支援が不可欠だ(10月24日付・読売社説)

We hope that international assistance, both economic and diplomatic, with scrapping Syria’s chemical weapons will also help bring the country’s civil war under control.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is expected to complete soon the inspection of 23 facilities that the administration of President Bashar Assad says were linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program. The OPCW will draw up a detailed work schedule for destroying the chemical weapons on the basis of its inspection results.

A joint mission of the United Nations and the OPCW has begun working in Damascus, with the goal of destroying Syria’s chemical stockpile and the equipment to produce the deadly weapons by mid-2014.

They will tackle the disposal of chemical weapons in cooperation with the Assad regime, but they have insufficient manpower and funds. The development of facilities to destroy the weapons has not yet started. It is essential for the international community to extend assistance quickly.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the OPCW, probably with the aim of calling on countries around the world to extend such assistance.

The destruction of chemical weapons in Syria has been deemed extremely difficult, chiefly because the weapons have to be disposed of amid a civil war. Some of the chemical weapons facilities are located in areas where government forces and armed rebel groups are fighting. We cannot shake our concern that the personnel destroying the weapons may come to harm.

Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the OPCW, is calling for a ceasefire so work to destroy the chemical weapons can proceed as planned. But it will not be easy to achieve a ceasefire anytime soon. It has been two years since the civil war began, and there is no end in sight to the fighting.

The death toll has topped 100,000, and 2 million people have become refugees. There is also the serious problem of Islamic extremist groups affiliated with the international terrorist organization Al-Qaida increasing their influence by taking advantage of the disorder in Syria.

Multilateral cooperation key

We hope international peace talks will be held soon, but most of Syria’s opposition leaders said they would only take part in such talks if Assad steps down.

We hope both the United States, which has some influence on the opposition groups, and Russia, a supporter of the Assad regime, will do everything they can to bring about peace talks and a ceasefire.

Japan is one of the few countries in the world, together with the United States and Russia, that has the technology and experience to destroy chemical weapons.

Japan is now disposing of the chemical weapons abandoned in China by the Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II. Work has been prolonged, as it has taken longer than anticipated to find shells buried in the ground. In 2010, a mobile Japanese weapon-disposal facility began operations.

Japan also has experience disposing of highly toxic gas due to the March 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system by members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged at the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York that Japan will provide “the greatest possible cooperation” for the international community’s efforts to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons.

Japan has contributed to the activities of the OPCW through financial aid and the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces personnel. We hope the government will extend further assistance to bring about peace in Syria.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 24, 2013)
(2013年10月24日01時41分  読売新聞)


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