The OPCW Prepares for Historic Challenge

16 September 2013

The report of the UN Mission to investigate the alleged use of Chemical Weapons in Syria was shared with UN members by the UN Secretary General today in New York. The report has confirmed that chemical weapons were indeed used in Syria. The Director-General of the OPCW Ahmet Üzümcü said “this is a tragic development that I condemn strongly. This clearly makes it all the more important to ensure that the programme for chemical demilitarisation in Syria succeeds.”

On 14 October 2013, the Chemical Weapons Convention will enter into force for Syria and the country will become the 190th Member State of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Syria joins the Convention against the background of extraordinary circumstances. It is therefore envisaged that the programme to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria will be initiated in a matter of days. Syria will provide, on an expeditious basis, a complete inventory of its chemical weapons, production facilities, and related materials to the OPCW. Our experts will verify the accuracy of this disclosure with on-site inspections, and will also assist in putting into place arrangements to keep the warfare materials and the relevant facilities secure until their destruction.    

The Executive Council of the OPCW is expected to meet soon to consider matters connected with the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.

The OPCW Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, said:

“I am aware of the onerous responsibility that the international community is placing on our shoulders.  I and my team approach this with a sense of destiny because so much is at stake. We will bring to bear on this mission our full energies and commitment, and I have every confidence that the international community will support us fully.”

The Chemical Weapons Convention represents the sole multilateral mechanism to rid the world of these terrible weapons. As its implementing body, the OPCW, with over 16 years of experience, possesses the necessary skills and capacities to undertake such missions. Nine OPCW inspectors participated in the UN investigation of alleged us in Syria, and OPCW experts are already at work preparing a roadmap that anticipates the various challenges involved in verifying Syria’s declared stockpiles. 

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