Oslo - The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW),
which is overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemicals weapon arsenal has won
the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Set up in 1997 to eliminate all chemicals weapons worldwide, its mission
gained critical importance this year after a sarin gas strike in the suburbs of
Damascus killed more than 1 400 people in August.
Washington blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the attack, a charge
he denied, instead blaming rebels. Facing the threat of a US military strike,
eventually he agreed to destroy Syria's sizeable chemical weapons programme and
allow in OPCW inspectors.
The $1.25 million prize will be presented in Oslo on 10 December, the
anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the
awards in his 1895 will.
The OPCW, based in the Hague in the Netherlands, has about 500 staff and an
annual budget of under $100m.
The OPCW, which has 189 member states, said Syria was co-operating and it
could eliminate its chemical weapons by mid-2014, provided they received
support from all sides in its civil war.
Chemical weapons experts believe Syria has roughly 1 000 tonnes of sarin,
mustard and VX nerve gas, some of it stored as bulk raw chemicals and some of
it already loaded onto missiles, warheads or rockets.
Under a Russian-US deal struck last month, Syria must render useless all
production facilities and weapons-filling equipment by November, a process
begun over the past several weeks.