27 April 2014 – The following are the key points made by Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, at a press briefing in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic [English/Arabic]:
-- The Syrian Arab Republic has now removed from its territory or destroyed in-country more than 92% of its declared stockpile of chemical weapons material. Eighteen movements have been carried out so far with due regard for the environment and public health.
-- Over the last months the Syrian Arab Republic has destroyed all declared production, mixing and filling equipment and munitions, as well as some buildings associated with its Chemical Weapons Programme. A majority of its chemical weapons storage facilities are now closed, and important progress has been made closing down production facilities.
-- The OPCW-UN Joint Mission has assisted the Syrian Arab Republic carrying out its obligations according to UN Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) and relevant OPCW Executive Council Decisions. Today, the Joint Mission has verified the removal and elimination of large parts of the Syrian Arab Republic’s declared Chemical Weapons Programme.
-- This is a significant achievement, which has been accomplished in a short period of time and in difficult security conditions.
-- However, nearly 8% of Syria’s declared chemical weapons material remains on its territory. This should be removed in the shortest possible timeframe, despite the difficult security situation. Should this material be removed soon, the Syrian Arab Republic will have successfully carried out a major obligation that is a focus of much international attention. I strongly encourage my Syrian interlocutors to complete the removal of remaining chemical weapons material as quickly as possible.
-- A team from the OPCW Technical Secretariat has been working with officials from the SAR reviewing the original Declaration: to obtain clarifications, and address discrepancies and anomalies. The team has reported fruitful discussions and tangible progress.
-- Twelve chemical weapons production facilities are under review by the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague regarding the modalities for their destruction. With the majority of other facilities now closed: an early decision is important if deadlines are to be achieved.
-- It is the Joint Mission’s hope and expectation that - having come this close to meeting the target date for the removal of chemicals weapons material - the Syrian Arab Republic will take the final step very soon. Every effort must be made towards achieving the 30 June 2014 deadline set by OPCW Executive Council Decisions and the UN Security Council.
-- In recent weeks there have been renewed allegations of toxic chlorine gas attacks in several different parts of the country. All necessary steps should be taken to establish the facts surrounding these unsubstantiated allegations. According to the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is now a State Party, the OPCW is the appropriate body to assess these allegations. I understand that the OPCW Technical Secretariat has been in touch with the Syrian government in this regard. This will be conducted outside of the Joint Mission mandate.
-- We are fully mindful of the human tragedy that has befallen on the people of Syria. We can only hope to make a modest yet meaningful contribution within the wider context of a peaceful resolution for Syria and the region.
For Arabic version, see the attached PDF or click here