THE HAGUE, Netherlands - 4 April 2017 - The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is seriously concerned about the alleged chemical weapons attack reported by the media this morning in the Khan Shaykhun area of southern Idlib in the Syrian Arab Republic. The OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission (FFM) is in the process of gathering and analysing information from all available sources. The FFM will report its findings to the OPCW’s Executive Council and States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The OPCW strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances.
The Chemical Weapons Convention comprehensively prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Any chemical used for warfare is considered a chemical weapon by the Convention.
In response to persistent allegations of chemical weapon attacks in Syria, the OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) was set up in 2014 “to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals, reportedly chlorine, for hostile purposes in the Syrian Arab Republic”. The FFM is required to study available information relating to allegations of use of chemical weapons in Syria, including information provided by the Syrian Arab Republic and others.
Since May 2014, the OPCW has deployed the FFM in numerous occasions to the Syrian Arab Republic and outside of Syria and has kept States Parties informed of its work. The FFM interviews witnesses and obtains samples and physical evidence for analysis.
In 2015, the OPCW Executive Council and the UN Security Council endorsed the continual operation of the FFM.
The FFM’s findings established the facts surrounding allegations of the use of toxic chemicals as weapons in Syria and confirmed that chemical weapons had been used. The FFM’s findings were the basis for the work of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), an independent body established by the UN Security Council (Resolution 2235, 7 August 2015). The JIM’s purpose is to identify the perpetrators of the chemical weapon attacks confirmed by the Fact Finding Mission.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
To date, nearly 95 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.
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