Oct. 11 - OPCW team working in Syria to eliminate chemical arms stockpiles react to the news that the watchdog group won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: An OPCW team working on the ground in Syria to eliminate chemical arms stockpiles got a note of congratulations from the head office in the Hague after the announcement was made that the chemical weapons watchdog group had won the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is a relatively small organization with a modest budget. The group dispatched experts to Syria after a sarin gas attack killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus in August. Their deployment under a U.N. mandate helped avert a U.S. strike against President Bashar al-Assad and marked an unusual step into the limelight for a group more used to working behind the scenes overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons worldwide. Gathered in Damascus, one worker read the message to the team. "I've called you all together to break to you some extraordinary and completely unexpected news that I've just heard from director general Ahmet Üzümcü in the Hague. The OPCW as an organization has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulations, but let me be clear. The organization has received this remarkable recognition for its work throughout the world and its history. Yes, in its citation, the Nobel committee said and I quote, 'recent events in Syria where chemical weapons have again been put to use have underlined the need to enhance the need to do away with such weapons.'" The OPCW Syria mission was unprecedented in taking place in the heat of a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people. Members of the Hague-based OPCW team themselves came under sniper fire in Syria on Aug. 26. While the inspection and destruction of chemical weapons continues, with a team of 27 in the field, Assad forces and rebels clash across the country using conventional weapons. Human Rights Watch said this week rebels had killed at least 190 civilians in Latakia province in August. The Hague-based OPCW was set up in 1997 to implement a 1992 global Chemical Weapons Convention to banish chemical arms and most recently helped destroy stockpiles in Iraq and Libya. It has about 500 staff and an annual budget under $100 million (USD).