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THE HAGUE, October 31 (Itar-Tass) - The Joint Mission of the United Nations and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria “is now satisfied that it has verified - and seen destroyed - all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.” “Given the progress made in the Joint OPCW-UN Mission in meeting the requirements of the first phase of activities, no further inspection activities are currently planned,” OPCW Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü stated on Thursday.
The spokesman noted, “The next milestone for the mission 15 November, by which time the Executive Council must approve a detailed plan of destruction submitted by Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile.”
He welcomed the return of eight OPCW inspectors to the organisation’s headquarters in The Hague. They had arrived in Damascus with the Advanced Team on 1 October and have been conducting the verification work on the ground ever since.
“On behalf of the OPCW, I thank you and all of our colleagues from the Joint OPCW-UN Mission who remain in Syria for your outstanding service,” the Director-General said. “I salute the fortitude and courage you’ve all demonstrated in fulfilling the most challenging mission ever undertaken by this Organisation,” he stressed.
The OPCW has confirmed the timely destruction of all the equipment for the production of chemical weapons declared by Syria. The inspectors checked 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons programme items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected, the organisation said in a press release.
On October 24, 2013, the Syrian Arab Republic submitted to the OPCW an official initial declaration on the chemical weapons destruction programme. This happened before the deadline - October 27, set by the OPCE Executive Council. Syria plans to complete the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles by mid-2014.