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Nobel Peace Prize honors group working to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons

October 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And we return now to the Nobel Peace Prize and the little-known group that won the award.

Ray Suarez has more.

THORBJORN JAGLAND, Norwegian Nobel Committee: The Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is to be awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

RAY SUAREZ: The announcement in Oslo, Norway, honored a group formed in 1997 and affiliated with the United Nations. Since then, the organization, based in The Hague, has enforced the Chemical Weapons Convention banning the production and use of such weapons.

THORBJORN JAGLAND: Recent events in Syria where chemical weapons have again been put to use have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons.

RAY SUAREZ: In August, the U.N. assigned the OPCW to investigate alleged chemical attacks by the Syrian military. This week, the group’s experts began inspecting and destroying Bashar al-Assad’s stockpile of poison gas and nerve agents, with a goal of finishing by mid-2014.

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The group’s director general voiced hoped today that the world will refocus on Syria.

AHMET UZUMCU, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: I truly hope that this award and the OPCW’s ongoing mission together with the United Nations in Syria will help broader efforts to achieve peace in that country and end the suffering of its people.

RAY SUAREZ: Syrian rebels criticized the prize. The Syrian National Coalition said it misses the real point.

KHALED SALEH, Syrian National Coalition: It seems that the world insists on forgetting that we have over 110,000 fallen heroes using conventional weapons, and yet the world, for reasons that are obvious to everybody, focuses on the issue of chemical weapons that only killed less than 1,400 people.

RAY SUAREZ: The Assad government said the Peace Prize underscores its credibility in cooperating with the inspectors.