Letter dated 31 October 2019 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council - Progress in the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme (S/2019/854) [EN/AR]

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I have the honour to transmit herewith the seventy-third monthly report of the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), submitted pursuant to paragraph 12 of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) (see annex). The report covers the period from 24 September to 23 October 2019.

I note that the OPCW Technical Secretariat remains unable to resolve all the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies in the declaration of the Syrian Arab Republic and that it therefore cannot fully verify that the Syrian Arab Republic has submitted a declaration that can be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and OPCW Executive Council decision EC-M-33/DEC.1. In that context, and to continue with the joint efforts to resolve all the outstanding issues, the twenty-second round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and the Syrian Arab Republic was held from 14 to 23 October 2019 in the Syrian Arab Republic. The outcome of this work will be reported to the OPCW Executive Council accordingly.

Furthermore, I note that the Technical Secretariat is planning the sixth round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamraya facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, which will be conducted before the end of 2019, in accordance with relevant decisions of the Executive Council. The Technical Secretariat continues to await clarification from the Syrian Arab Republic regarding the chemical listed in schedule 2 that was detected in one of the samples taken at the Barzah facility during the third round of inspections.

The fact-finding mission continues to analyse the information related to allegations of the use of toxic chemicals as a weapon in Kabanah on 19 May 2019, in Aleppo on 24 November 2018 and in the five reported incidents in 2017, as well as other incidents. Moreover, the mission is planning further deployments and will report to the Executive Council on the results of its work in due course.

Regarding the work of the Investigation and Identification Team established by decision C-SS-4/DEC.3, I note that the Team has started its investigations and has contacted States parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention requesting their cooperation.

As I have stated repeatedly, the use of chemical weapons by anyone is intolerable, and impunity for their use is equally unacceptable. It is imperative to identify and hold accountable all those who have used chemical weapons. Unity in the Security Council is essential to achieve this urgent obligation.

(Signed) António Guterres