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Syria Continues to Buck Chemical Weapons Convention

(FILE) The headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
(FILE) The headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Syria Continues to Buck Chemical Weapons Convention
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Nearly ten years ago, after it became clear that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own civilian population, Syria agreed to and signed a number of international agreements calling for the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile by June 2014. At the same time, Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which automatically conferred upon it membership in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW.

Two weeks later, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2118, which strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, forbidding it from the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling or retention of chemical weapons.

Syria did at first seem to follow through on the stipulations of the agreements, but according to Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, the Assad regime has still not shed light on its chemical weapon stocks.

“The Assad regime has not met its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Security Council Resolution 2118,” said Alternate United States Representative for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations Robert Wood.

“Specifically, the regime has yet to offer a fulsome accounting of its chemical weapons and is not cooperating fully, nor being transparent with the OPCW. Fulsome consultations with the OPCW’s Declaration Assessment Team remain necessary because Syria will not fully disclose and verifiably eliminate its chemical weapons program,” he said.

According to Ms. Nakamitsu, Damascus is not cooperating with the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, leaving “identified gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies” in the declaration on its chemical program.

“It has only been through the diligent and thorough efforts of the Declaration Assessment Team that the Assad regime has been forced to reveal … more and more of its chemical weapons program,” said Ambassador Wood. “The regime also continues to thwart the Declaration Assessment Team; refusing to allow the lead technical expert to deploy to its territory and preventing full consultations from taking place for more than two years now.”

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the Assad regime for its repeated use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians,” said Ambassador Wood.

“We once again call on the Syrian regime to amend its Chemical Weapons Convention declarations to make them accurate and complete … and to provide immediate and unfettered access to the OPCW staff as required under UN Security Council Resolution 2118.”