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THE HAGUE, October 8 (Itar-Tass) - The first group of inspectors of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that since October 1 has been working in Syria, has returned to The Hague, the OPCW press service reported.
“A group of OPCW Technical Secretariat experts who were part of the advanced team that has been in Damascus since 1 October has returned to The Hague. This group was tasked to engage with the Syrian authorities in accordance with Operative Paragraph One of the decision of the Executive Council,” says the release.
“Discussions were held with the Syrian authorities on the disclosure which Syria earlier provided to the OPCW on its chemical weapons programme. The discussions were constructive and the Syrian authorities were cooperative,” according to the organisation.
“OPCW will continue to evaluate the information given by Syria in its disclosure in parallel with ongoing work by Syria to prepare its official initial declaration to the OPCW. Under the provisions of the Executive Council decision the initial declaration is due for submission by 27 October,” it said.
On September 27, the OPCW Executive Council approved a plan for the total elimination of stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria, which is expected to be completed by mid-2014. On the same day, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that makes this decision binding and envisaging measures up to sanctions or the use of military force in case of non-compliance.
On Sunday, October 6, the first phase of the destruction of part of the Syrian arsenal of chemical weapons and the equipment used to produce it began. “The process of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons programme began today. Under the supervision of experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, supported by the United Nations, Syrian personnel used cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable a range of items. This included missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment. The process will continue in the coming days,” according to the OPCW.
The Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC) - the founding document of the organisation - will come into force for Syria on October 14, 2013, after which the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) will officially become the 190th member state of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
A top official of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that the second group of inspectors will be dispatched to Syria to conduct an audit inspection of the chemical weapons stock.
He did not announce an expected date for the experts to fly to Syria.
OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu noted that the mission of the OPWC inspectors in Syria began in the constructive way. However, the process of destroying the chemical weapons will be long and difficult, he said at the 74th meeting of the OPCW Executive Council that will last until October 11.