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Progress On Eliminating Syria's Chemical Weapons


UN investigation team take samples from sand near a part of a missile in the Damascus countryside of Ain Terma, Syria. (File)

The Joint Mission completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of Assad's declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.

The Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations, the OPCW-UN -- tasked with overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons program -- has reported progress.


After a briefing to the Security Council by Joint Mission Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag on November 5th, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told reporters that the OPCW-UN has inspected 21 of 23 sites declared by the Syrian government, and 40 of 41 facilities located at those sites.

Ms. Power said the Joint Mission completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.

She stressed that “the onus remains on the Assad regime to fulfill all of its obligations under the OPCW-UN Agreement…There is nothing yet to celebrate, but it is significant that we have made…progress toward taking away a potent weapon of war and terror from Assad and his forces.”

Ambassador Power emphasized that the chemical weapons agreement has not changed the U.S. position on Assad. “A man who gasses his people – and who uses Scuds and all other forms of terror against his people – is not fit to govern those people,” she said. “It remains the United States’ commitment…to ensure that a red light for one type of weapon does not become a green light for others. Eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons is not a substitute for ending the violence engulfing the country.”

That violence has led to an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation in Syria, which, Ambassador Power said, requires “an immediate expansion of humanitarian assistance.” She noted that “the Syrian government, which has granted visas and facilitated the work of the chemical weapons inspectors, has not lifted a finger to allow relief workers into the country to assist those citizens who are in desperate need.”

The Security Council and like-minded countries around the world, Ambassador Power said, “have to exert influence on all parties to end preventable suffering and the deaths of innocent civilians…We have seen what the Assad regime can do when it is held accountable, and indeed what this Council can do when it is united, as it was on the question of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. We must work with a similar sense of urgency to address the devastating, deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground.”
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