Syria: UN disarmament chief reports progress in destroying chemical weapons facilities

15 June 2017

The United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, reported to the Security Council that "some progress" has been made over the past month in the implementation of its 2013 resolution on the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.

However, recalling a statement by the Secretary-General, she warned that continued use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only horrific in its own right, but also profoundly damaging to the international community's confidence in its non-proliferation architecture.

“This is to the detriment of all of us. We have, collectively, worked to create regimes for disarmament and non-proliferation in order that our security will be enhanced. If we, collectively, permit the erosion of these regimes, so too will our security be eroded,” she explained.

As for the destruction of Syria's last three chemical weapons production facilities, Ms. Nakamitsu said that on 6 June, the remaining hangar had been destroyed. On the other hand, due to security concerns, it remains impossible to access the two remaining surface installations, she noted.

On other matters, she said that issues relating to Syria's declaration remain unresolved. Plans for a fourth session of high-level consultations are being considered, but no date has been set. The last consultations of this type date back to June 2016.

“The Secretary-General continues to urge cooperation between the Syrian Government and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to resolve these issues, in order that the OPCW is in a position to verify that activities are in accordance with the obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and consistent with the information provided in declarations,” stated Ms. Nakamitsu.

Regarding the investigation into the allegation of the use of chemical weapons that took place on 4 April in Khan Shaykhoun, she said the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission had recently visited Damascus and in addition, planning is still underway for the deployment of a team to the site of the incident.

“As always, any such deployment will depend upon the most stringent security assurances for the OPCW team,” adding that the Mission could not say when it will be able to give its conclusions on the incident.

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