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UN Complains about Syria’s ‘Procrastination’ in Eliminating its Chemical Program

UN Complains about Syria’s ‘Procrastination’ in Eliminating its Chemical Program

Wednesday, 7 December, 2022 - 08:00
Washington accuses President Bashar al-Assad's regime of “insulting” the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and says it is fully supported by Russia. (Sputnik - Reuters)

The High Representative of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, complained about the Syrian authorities’ procrastination in responding to requests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat to complete the elimination of its chemical weapons program.

She made her remarks on Monday while briefing the UN Security Council on the progress in the implementation of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) on the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program.

Nakamitsu affirmed that her office has been in regular contact with its counterparts at the OPCW on its activities related to resolution 2118.

She said that efforts by the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) to clarify all outstanding issues regarding the initial declaration and the Syrian government’s subsequent declarations have not progressed since the Council last met on this issue.

She regretted the unsuccessful efforts by the OPCW Technical Secretariat to organize the next round of consultations between the DAT and the Syrian National Authority.

Nakamitsu attributed the postponement of inspections of the two facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) scheduled for December 2022 to “operational reasons.”

“I have been advised that the OPCW Technical Secretariat has not yet received the requested information from the Syrian Arab Republic,” she noted.

The Secretariat proposed to hold a meeting with Syria in Beirut in November 2022 to identify limited in-country activities in line with the plan of activities agreed in 2019, to receive declarations or documents it had previously requested, and to provide the Syrian National Authority with the results of the analysis of samples collected in April 2019, together with an assessment of an outstanding issue opened in 2016.

However, she told the Council that efforts by the OPCW Technical Secretariat to convene this meeting were “unsuccessful.”

“Full cooperation by the Syrian Arab Republic with the OPCW Technical Secretariat is essential to closing all outstanding issues,” the UN officials stressed.

She added that due to the identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved, the declaration submitted by Syria cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Commenting on Nakamitsu’s briefing, the political counselor at the US Mission to the UN, John Kelley, said obfuscation and delay are still the only terms to describe the Assad regime’s effort to address its chemical weapons stockpiles.

He said that the Assad regime’s continuous obstruction is an “insult” to the OPCW, the Security Council, and the international community, affirming that the Syrian regime continues to enjoy the “full support of the Russian Federation.”

Syria’s representative to the UN Al-Hakam Dandy, for his part, said the Syrian government refutes the false accusations against Syria by some Western countries.

He went on to underscore the illegitimacy of the Investigation and Identification Team, stating that its mandate was the result of certain States’ attempts to pursue their own ulterior motives in Syria.

He called on the Council to reconsider its approach, address all relevant developments objectively, and avoid politicization or exerting pressure on the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

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