The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has highlighted the need for the global community to step up efforts to support the international elimination of chemical weapons.

Addressing the 22nd annual Chemical Weapon Demilitarisation Conference in London, UK Defence Minister Lord Howe stated that the UK will do all it takes to uphold the international norm against the use of chemical weapons.

Howe said: “This conference plays a unique role in bringing together international experts so that they can work together to solve problems relating to the destruction of chemical weapons. Their scientific and technical expertise is fundamental to meeting our objective of a world free of chemical weapons.

“The use of chemical weapons in Salisbury, here in the UK, and in Syria shows that there is still much to do before we reach our goal. In an increasingly dangerous world, the international community cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become accepted as ‘normal’ and it is important that states take action when required.

“The UK is determined to uphold the international norm against the use of chemical weapons. We remain firm in our resolve to respond appropriately to any use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime.”

The conference brought together global experts to discuss the progress in achieving the international elimination of chemical weapons, co-operation, as well as share experiences.

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The MOD has stated that serious challenges continue to stare in the face of the Convention, citing recent examples of the Salisbury chemical weapon attack in March last year, and the one carried out by the Syrian regime under president Asad in Douma in April.

"So far, the CWC has eliminated more than 96% of the world’s declared chemical weapon stocks."

The conference has been an annual affair since the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) became effective in 1997. CWC bans chemical weapons and requires states to destroy any existing stockpiles.

So far, the CWC has eliminated more than 96% of the world’s declared chemical weapon stocks.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons director general and ambassador Fernando Arias said: “The continuing use of chemical weapons in recent years underlines the importance of our shared mission and the challenges that we face in completing it, having always in mind that the goal is the complete destruction and the guarantee against any kind of re-emergence of chemical weapons all over the world and forever.”

Both the US and the European Union have made recent efforts to reduce their own stockpiles of chemical weapons and support sanctions on proliferation.