Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Nobel committee, noted that the award was focused on chemical weapons, not the wider conflict in Syria, but added: "Of course, the committee hopes that a peaceful solution will be achieved in Syria."
The struggle to control chemical weapons began in earnest after World War I, when agents such as mustard gas killed more than 100,000 people. The 1925 Geneva Convention banned the use of chemical weapons, but their production or storage wasn't outlawed until the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force.
Seven nations — Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia and the United States, along with a country identified by the OPCW only as "a state party" but widely believed to be South Korea — have declared chemical weapon stockpiles and have destroyed them or are in the process of doing so.
However, the Nobel committee noted that some countries, including the U.S. and Russia, have not met the April 2012 deadline.
"I have to recognize that they have particular challenges. They have huge stockpiles of chemical weapons," the Nobel committee's Jagland said. "What is important is that they do as much as they can and as fast as they can."
According to the OPCW, 57,740 metric tons, or 81 percent, of the world's declared stockpile of chemical agents have been verifiably destroyed. An OPCW report this year said the U.S. had destroyed about 90 percent of its arsenal, Russia 70 percent and Libya 51 percent.
Established by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, the Nobel Prizes have been handed out since 1901.
Ritter reported from Stockholm. AP reporters Mark Lewis in Oslo, Norway, Michael Corder in The Hague and Barbara Surk in Beirut contributed to this report.
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