THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Though more than 75 percent of declared chemical weapons have been destroyed, a concerted effort is needed to protect the future, a U.N. official said.
Jarmo Sareva, U.N. deputy secretary-general on disarmament, issued a message to delegates gathered at The Hague for the 17th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
He said that, as of October, there were 188 parties to a convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons, leaving only eight countries outside the regime. He said 78 percent of the world's declared chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed.
"Let us now focus on fulfilling the core objectives of the convention and prevent the re-emergence or future use of these horrific weapons," he said in a statement.
The Hague meeting follows a decision last week by the U.S. government to cancel a December meeting in Finland to discuss a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction. Washington said there was a "deep conceptual gap" in addressing regional security.
"We would not support a conference in which any regional state would be subject to pressure or isolation," Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said in an explanatory statement.