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THE HAGUE, September 29 (Itar-Tass) - A group of about 20 inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will set off for Syria in the morning on Monday, September 30 and will be in Damascus by midday on October 1 to inspect chemical weapons arsenals, OPCW representatives told a technical briefing at the OPCW headquarters in the Hague on Sunday.
The OPCW representatives did not say how the organization’s inspectors would get to Damascus and why their trip would take so much time. The briefing was held in the atmosphere of increased level of secrecy. Thus, OPCW officials spoke on condition of anonymity. Journalists were told to cite them as “officials” or “team members.” It was prohibited to record or film the meeting.
According to OPCW officials, the team of inspectors will include primarily engineers, chemists, paramedics and other specialists. The inspection will take 30 days, after which the inspectors will present a report.
Syria is joining the organization in special conditions, OPCW representatives noted, since the regular procedure allocates 60 days to consider the application of a potential member country. The document comes into force 30 days after the application is approved. After that, the new member state has 30 days to declare its chemical weapons arsenals to the OPCW. In Syria’s case, the time span from the application submission to the country’s provision of information about its chemical arsenals was reduced to seven days. It is an unprecedented fact, OPCW officials stressed. After the OPCW basic document, the Chemical Weapons Convention, comes into force for Syria on October 14, 2013, the country will officially become the 190th member state of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Under the OPCW plan, all Syria’s chemical arsenals are to be disposed of by the middle of 2014.