Ambassador Kenneth D. Ward, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the OPCW The Hague, Netherlands
April 16, 2018

Mr Chairperson, Mr Director-General, distinguished ambassadors and delegates,

It is utterly deplorable that, once again, the Executive Council must address a horrific chemical weapons attack by Syria. On 7 April, just three days after this Council convened – on the anniversary of the 4 April 2017, Khan Shaykhun attack – the Syrian city of Douma came under an intense chemical weapons attack which killed dozens of innocent civilians and injured hundreds more. Initial reports indicate the attack in Douma could result in a similar level of civilian casualties as experienced by the town of Khan Shaykhun last year. These horrors need to stop.

The devastating images that emerged from Douma, Syria, on April 7 reveal the unique and gruesome danger that chemical weapons pose to the world. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s latest attack on innocent civilians violated his regime’s obligations under international law, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and several United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including Security Council Resolution 2118.

It also represents human cruelty in its most depraved form. The Assad regime must be held accountable.

Speaking to the Nation last night, President Donald J. Trump explained that he ordered U.S. Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with Syrian chemical weapons capabilities. He thanked the United Kingdom and France for joining America in the operation, which will continue to pressure Syria to stop using chemical weapons by integrating the other instruments of our national power: economic, informational, and diplomatic.

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The F-35 program has accomplished the final developmental test flight of the System Development and Demonstration phase of the program.

“Completing F-35 SDD flight test is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from the joint government and industry team,” said Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program executive officer. “Since the first flight of AA-1 in 2006, the developmental flight test program has operated for more than 11 years mishap-free, conducting more than 9,200 sorties, accumulating over 17,000 flight hours, and executing more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants. Congratulations to our F-35 test team and the broader F-35 enterprise for delivering this new powerful and decisive capability to the warfighter.”

The United States is sending nearly $16 million in humanitarian assistance for Venezuelans who have fled their country due to the crisis there.

This funding from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development includes a contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s regional response to the Venezuela crisis and humanitarian aid to Venezuelans and host communities in Colombia and Brazil. This assistance will help provide the people of Venezuela safe drinking water, hygiene supplies, shelter, protection from violence and exploitation, and work and education opportunities, in coordination with other humanitarian organizations and government partners.

President Donald J. Trump has lifted travel restrictions for Chadian nationals following a period of review in which the Government of Chad improved their identity-management and information sharing practices.

On September 24, following an extensive review and engagement period with countries around the world, the President signed Proclamation 9645 that directed the Departments of State and Homeland Security to restrict the entry of certain nationals of countries identified as deficient in their identity-management and information sharing practices, subject to limited exceptions and waivers on a case-by-case basis, in order to protect the security and welfare of the United States. The September 24 Presidential Proclamation has been fully implemented since December 8, 2017.

By Spc. Dustin Biven

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- In the fields of Grafenwoehr, Germany, service members from the U.S., the U.K. and other U.S. Department of Defense entities watched as several new unmanned aerial tools were explained and demonstrated during a multinational joint equipment training brief April 2, 2018.

Led by a group of civilians from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, the training brief served as a precursor to a scheduled Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration later this week. That demonstration will see the use of new air and ground equipment for the first time by Soldiers.

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