Syria: joint UN team preparing for onsite inspections ‘within the next week’
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is reviewing additional information received from Syria in connection to its chemical weapons stockpiles, a United Nations spokesperson said today, ahead of onsite inspections and initial disabling of equipment which could start as early as next week.
The OPCW Technical Secretariat, which together with the UN forms the team tasked with overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities, received information that was “additional to the disclosure on its chemical weapons programme which Syria submitted on 21 September,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told journalists in New York.
Meanwhile, the joint team has made “encouraging initial progress” following the first working day of meetings with Syrian authorities.
“Documents handed over [on Wednesday] by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members,” the UN spokesperson said yesterday, “but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered.”
The team hopes to begin onsite inspections and the initial disabling of equipment “within the next week,” Mr. Nesirky noted, but added that the timing depends on the outcome of the technical groups established with the participation of Syrian experts.
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 Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment are to be eliminated by mid-2014.
Also next week, the head of The Hague-based OPCW, Ahmet Üzümcü, is due to brief the organization’s member States on Tuesday, the same day he will address the OPCW Executive Council. Mr. Üzümcü spoke to a meeting of the 41-member body yesterday.
The OPCW Executive Council on 27 September established special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the chemical weapons programme and stringent verification, including a timetable.