October 12, 2013
A UN spokesman said here Friday that the international chemical weapons watchdog and the world body have made “good progress” in verifying the information from Syria on its chemical weapons program.
“The advance team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations has made good progress in verifying the information submitted by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic on its chemical weapons program,” Farhan Haq, the associate UN spokesman, said at a daily news briefing here.
“At the end of the first 10 days of operations on the ground, the verification teams have inspected three sites and plans are underway for further site visits,” Haq said.
“A second group of OPCW inspectors and more UN support staff have arrived in Damascus, bringing to about 60 the number of people on the advance team,” he said.
As the OPCW has received initial and supplementary information from Syria on its chemical weapons program, the advance team is now in the process of verifying that information. It has also overseen the destruction by Syria of some of its munitions stockpile, as well as some of its chemical weapons production equipment.
The UN fact-finding group has confirmed the use of chemical weapons outside the Syrian capital of Damascus on Aug. 21. On Sept. 27, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons.
The destruction of some chemical weapons manufacturing plants and other material already has been carried out. Syria is responsible for carrying out such work, under the monitoring of the OPCW.
The 15-country Security Council on Friday formally approved a plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up a joint OPCW-UN mission to be based in Cyprus. The destruction of Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons will be finished by the middle of next year.
Asked about a recent human rights report concerning alleged atrocities by Syrian rebels, Haq cited Ban’s words that there should be no impunity for crimes committed against civilians by any of the parties.
The violence was another reason for the need to cease the fighting and revitalize the diplomatic process, Haq said, adding that Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint special representative of the United Nations and Arab League for Syria, was working to arrange an International Conference on Syria, hopefully in Geneva by mid- November.
According to the UN spokesman, all the parties had been linked to killings of civilians and the secretary-general opposed the further militarization of the conflict in Syria.
This article was posted: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 4:38 am