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UN/OPCW envoy urges safe, unfettered access to remaining Syrian chemicals

May 09, 2014, 0:02 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
Sigrid Kaag said that all that remains is the removal of 16 containers with chemicals
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Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Sigrid Kaag

Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Sigrid Kaag

© AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

UNITED NATIONS, May 08. /ITAR-TASS/. There are only 16 containers with chemicals remain to be removed from Syria but they are inaccessible because of the deteriorating security conditions, Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said on Thursday, May 8.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door briefing to the UN Security Council, Kaag said that all that remains is the removal of 16 containers. “Then the operation can be concluded very quickly. It’s a matter of less than a working week in its totality and that allows the authorities to stay as close to the 30 June deadline as possible.”

She noted that 92% of Syria’s chemical weapons had been removed or destroyed in country so far. The remaining 8% is currently inaccessible due to the security conditions.

Kaag stressed that unfettered access is critical to ensure that the operation can be concluded quickly and on time.

“Significant milestones have been met but we do need that final push to achieve 100 per cent and to complete the work as foreseen in the entire chemical weapons elimination programme,” she said.

In addition to the removal operations, the Syrian authorities have destroyed buildings, equipment and empty mustard gas containers, and decontaminated other containers in a number of chemical weapons storage and production sites. A majority of these sites are now closed.

Chemical weapons will be destroyed by Britain, Germany, the United States, and Finland. When all of the Syrian chemicals from all storage sites have been loaded aboard the Danish and Norwegian cargo ships, they will be transported to various locations for destruction under the verification of OPCW inspectors.

The majority of Priority 1 chemicals will be neutralised at sea aboard the U.S. vessel MV Cape Ray, while a smaller amount will be neutralised at a land-based facility in Ellesmere Port, UK. The Priority 2 chemicals will be destroyed at commercial facilities in the U.S. and Finland. A facility in Germany will dispose of part of the effluent from the Cape Ray operations, the OPCW said.

The removal of the most critical material for destruction began on January 7, 2014, a week after the deadline for its completion set by an agreement brokered by Russia and the United States under which Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.

On November 15, 2013, the OPCW Executive Council (EC) approved a detailed plan of destruction to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In the plan, Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner”, and no later than June 30, 2014.

Under Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) and decisions of the OPCW Executive Council, Syria’s entire chemical weapons programme is to be destroyed by June 30, 2014.

Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons under an agreement brokered last year by Russia and the United States.

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