UN prepares for on-site inspections in Syria

Updated: 2013-10-05 13:41


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UNITED NATIONS - The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is reviewing additional information received from Syria on its chemical weapons stockpiles, a UN spokesman said here Friday.

The OPCW Technical Secretariat, which has, together with the UN, formed a team tasked with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons production facilities, received information  additional to the disclosure on the chemical weapons program which Syria submitted on 21 September, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said at a daily news briefing here.

The joint team has also made "encouraging initial progress" following the first working day of meetings with Syrian authorities, he said.

The team hopes to begin on-site inspections and the initial disabling of equipment "within the next week," said Nesirky, who nevertheless emphasized that the exact timing for start of the inspections depends on the outcome of the technical groups established with the participation of Syrian experts.

"Documents handed over (on Wednesday) by the Syrian government look promising, according to team members," Nesirky told reporters here, "but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered."

These groups are working on three areas which are key to the mission's success, namely security, logistics and field support.

They include verification of the information handed over by the Syrian government; the safety and security of the inspection teams; and practical arrangements for implementing the plan, under which, materials and equipment for Syria's chemical weapons are to be eliminated by mid-2014.

The head of The Hague-based OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu, is due to brief the organization's member states Tuesday, which coincides the date when he will address the OPCW Executive Council as well.

On September 27, the OPCW Executive Council established special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the chemical weapons program, and stringent verification, including a timetable.

Later that day, the UN Security Council unanimous adopted resolution 2118, calling for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW in a bid to rid the war-torn Syria of the chemical weapons.

The UN fact-finding group has confirmed the use of chemical weapons on August 21 outside the Syrian capital of Damascus, but the inspectors did not say who used them.