Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders is pleased with the decision taken on 27 July in The Hague by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to assume the role of investigating the responsibilities for chemical attacks in Syria.
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Belgium strongly condemns all use of chemical weapons which are a blatant violation of international law. Belgium therefore understands the military action in Syria of our American, French and British partners who have targeted identified production facilities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput received today at the Egmont Palace in Brussels Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The Armistice, which marked the end of the First World War, is being celebrated this 11th of November. Today is also the last day of the commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. It was during this tragic battle, on Belgian soil, that chemical weapons were used for the first time on a large scale. Unfortunately, the use of chemical weapons still does not belong to the past.
Exactly 100 years ago today, on July 12th, 1917, the first large-scale mustard gas attack in human history took place on Belgian territory in Ieper. This chemical weapon caused numerous deaths and scarred other victims for life. Today, chemical ammunition is still being found on the battlefields of the First World War. Belgium continues to destroy significant amounts of these weapons and has recently invested in the acquisition of new equipment to continue its dismantlement activities.
On 29 April 1997, the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons entered into force. Twenty years later, this remains the only treaty that outlaws a complete category of weapons of mass destruction and enforces this ban through a verification regime. Currently, 192 countries have joined the convention.
On the eve of the commemoration of the end of the First World War, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders expresses his concern on the insidious return of chemical warfare. The use of chemical weapons under any circumstances violates international law and is contrary to the basic standards of humanity. The intention of the international community not to repeat the mistakes of the past was strongly reaffirmed a year ago in the 'Ieper Declaration' on the occasion of the centenary of the first large-scale use of chemical weapons.