UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday welcomed the destruction of Syria's declared chemical weapons material on board the United States Maritime Vessel Cape Ray.
"This marks a significant achievement in the international community's efforts to eliminate the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic following the framework agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesperson.
"The secretary-general appreciates the cooperation of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and commends those member states that provided crucial support to this process," the statement said.
In the statement, the UN chief also thanked the United Nations- Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joint Mission for its leadership and commitment.
"He urges the Syrian Arab Republic to build on this historic milestone in order to ensure the full elimination of its chemical weapons program, including the destruction of the remaining chemical weapons production facilities," said the statement.
The U.S. maritime vessel Cape Ray has completed destruction of its entire consignment of 600 metric tonnes of Category 1 chemicals from Syria, the OPCW announced on Tuesday.
According to the chemical watchdog the operation was completed weeks ahead of the 60-day schedule that the United States had estimated.
Six days ago the OPCW already announced that the United States completed all 581 metric tonnes of a precursor chemical for sarin gas from Syria on the Cape Ray as well.
The OPCW now declared that the Cape Ray will transport the effluent from the hydrolysis operations to Finland and Germany, where it will be offloaded for disposal at land-based facilities.
The Syrian government headed by President Bashar al-Assad agreed to turn over its declared chemical weapons in September last year, as Washington and some of its allies threatened to launch airstrikes in response to Damascus' alleged use of sarin gas in a conflict with the rebel forces.