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Chemical Weapons Monitors Destroying Stockpiles

FILE: Labels of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are seen inside a damaged house in Douma in Damascus, Syria April 23, 2018.

NOOTDORP, NETHERLANDS - The world's chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday that the process of destroying tens of thousands of tons of declared chemical stockpiles will be completed "within the next few weeks."

"More than 70,000 tons of the world's most dangerous poisons have been destroyed under the supervision of the OPCW," said Fernando Arias, head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

A small remnant left in the United States "will be destroyed within the next few weeks," Arias told journalists on a tour of the watchdog's new technical center and laboratory facility outside The Hague.

Since the Chemical Weapons Convention, the treaty that bans the use of toxic arms, was implemented in 1997, the OPCW had destroyed 72,118 tons of stockpiles declared by countries around the world, or 99 percent.

This equated to the equivalent of some 175 jumbo jets, a senior OPCW official said.

"Around 127 tons of declared weapons remained to be destroyed at two facilities, one in Denver, in Colorado, as well as at the Blue Grass chemical facility in Kentucky," the official told AFP.

"After 26 years, this is a major achievement for the organization," she said.

The OPCW was founded in 1997 to uphold the Chemical Weapons Convention and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed in 2013 to join the OPCW and give up all chemical weapons, following a suspected sarin nerve gas attack that killed 1,400 people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

But it has been repeatedly accused of chemical weapons attacks since then.