Chemical weapons watchdog to stay in Syria for inspections
THE UNITED NATIONS, October 2. /TASS/. Despite the closure of the joint mission to oversee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles on September 30, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will stay in the country to carry out inspections, the UN chief said.
In a letter to the UN Security Council published on Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that in an effort to ensure the uninterrupted work, he has asked the special coordinator of the joint OPCW-UN mission, Sigrid Kaag, to support this decision.
“Joint Mission has successfully conducted its work over the past twelve months under extremely challenging and complex circumstances,” the UN chief said in Wednesday’s statement.
Mr. Ban expressed “his deep gratitude” to Kaag and other staff members from both the UN and the OPCW, who have worked “under difficult and often dangerous conditions” to complete the elimination of the declared chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Secretary-General stressed “the need for a world free of chemical weapons” and reiterated “his call upon those States that have not done so to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
The mission was formally approved by the UN Security Council in October 2013. The most critical material for destruction started being removed in early January, under the deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
In line with the agreement, Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.
By September 30, a total of 1,300 tons of chemical agents had been removed from Syria and subsequently destroyed at sea. There are still 12 former chemical weapons production facilities that need to be destroyed.
OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said that the works in preparation to destroy these facilities are expected to start later this month, and the first facility is to be eliminated on November 30.