The Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is reviewing additional information received from Syria about its chemical weapons stockpiles, a United Nations spokesperson has said, ahead of onsite inspections and initial disabling of equipment which could start as early as next week. The OPCW Technical Secretariat, which together with the UN forms the team tasked with overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities, received information that was “additional to the disclosure on its chemical weapons program which Syria submitted on September 21,” UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York on Friday.
Meanwhile, the joint team has made “encouraging initial progress” following the first working day of meetings with Syrian authorities. “Documents handed over on Wednesday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members,” the UN spokesperson said, “but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered.”
The team hopes to begin onsite inspections and the initial disabling of equipment “within the next week,” Nesirky noted, but added that the timing depends on the outcome of the technical groups established with the participation of Syrian experts. These groups are working on three areas which are key to the mission’s success, namely security, logistics and field support. They include verification of the information handed over by the Syrian Government; the safety and security of the inspection teams; and practical arrangements for implementing the plan, under which Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment are to be eliminated by mid-2014.
Also next week, the head of The Hague-based OPCW, Ahmet Uzumcu, is due to brief the organization’s member States on Tuesday, the same day he will address the OPCW Executive Council. Uzumcu spoke to a meeting of the 41-member body on Thursday.
The OPCW Executive Council on Sept. 27 established special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the chemical weapons programme and stringent verification, including a timetable. Later that day, the UN Security Council unanimous adopted resolution 2118 (2013), calling for the for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the OPCW.