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November 10, 2022
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Syria’s Chemical Weapons Declaration Cannot Be Considered Accurate, Complete, Disarmament Affairs Chief Tells Security Council

Several Members Question Meetings Frequency Given Lack of New Developments

Syria must fully and urgently cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to close all outstanding issues regarding its chemical weapons declarations, the detection of a Schedule 2 chemical at the Barzah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre in November 2018, and the unauthorized movement of the two cylinders related to the chemical weapon incident in Douma in April 2018, the United Nations disarmament chief told the Security Council today.

“Efforts by the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team to clarify all the outstanding issues regarding the initial declaration and subsequent declarations of Syria remain as previously outlined,” underscored Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, who last briefed the Council on the matter on 25 October.  At this stage, Syria’s declaration cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, she reiterated.

Moreover, the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s efforts to organize the twenty-fifth round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and the Syrian National Authority continue to be unsuccessful.  “Full cooperation by the Syrian Arab Republic with the OPCW Technical Secretariat is essential to closing all outstanding issues,” she urged.

While the Technical Secretariat was still awaiting Syria’s response on the latest version of the agenda submitted in December 2021, Syria suggested a preliminary meeting in Beirut in preparation for the meeting between the OPCW Director-General and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria, she said, noting the restart of communications between the meeting focal points.

Pointing to the ongoing work of the OPCW fact-finding mission and the Investigation and Identification Team, she said:  “It is imperative to identify and hold accountable all those who have used chemical weapons,” voicing hope that the Council members will unite on the issue to bring justice to the victims and prevent the steady erosion of the taboo against the use of chemical weapons.

The ensuing debate highlighted the division in the Council concerning the Syrian chemical weapons file, with several members questioning the 15-nation organ’s monthly meetings given the absence of new developments on the ground.  Other delegates, however, stressed the need for ongoing monthly meetings given Syria’s lack of cooperation.  Several speakers underscored the importance of dialogue and Syria’s genuine engagement to resolve outstanding issues, while others emphatically called on Damascus to fully cooperate with OPCW.

The representative of the Russian Federation stressed that the frequency of the meetings on the topic is “clearly absurd”, given that there have been no developments on the ground.  Moreover, he said the “infamous report” of the fact-finding mission to Douma in April 2018 was “drastically edited”, verging on “falsification”.  The body ignores the facts provided by the Syrian authorities and the Russian military, as well as the statements by eyewitnesses who say the incidents were staged, he said.

The representatives of India, China, United Arab Emirates, Brazil and Ghana (also on behalf of Gabon and Kenya), in a similar vein, questioned the Council’s approach to the Syrian chemical weapons track, noting the absence of new developments on the ground.  India’s representative encouraged sustained engagement between Syria and the Technical Secretariat and expressed appreciation for the recent communication between the focal points regarding a possible meeting ahead.

For complete document, read, "Syria’s Chemical Weapons Declaration Cannot Be Considered Accurate, Complete, Disarmament Affairs Chief Tells Security Council", (9184TH MEETING/ SC/15099/ NOVEMBER 07, 2022).