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OPCW-UN mission to investigate chemical attacks in Syria to be formed by end of October

October 08, 2015, 4:18 UTC+3 UNITED NATIONS
Kim Won-soo said a steering commission of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism had already been appointed
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© AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

UNITED NATIONS, October 8. /TASS/. A joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to identify those responsible for the chemical attacks in Syria will be formed and ready to begin its work by the end of October, Acting United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Kim Won-soo, said on Wednesday after a closed-door session of the United Nations Security Council.

He said a steering commission of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism had already been appointed. Now, its three members were hiring professional investigators from various partner organizations, including the United Nations, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Interpol, and were addressing financing-related issues, he said, adding that concurrently efforts were being taken to prepare for signing an agreement with the Syrian government on the mission’s status.

Kin Won-soo however refrained from answering the question whether the mission’s members were subject to approval by the Syrian government. He only said the key criteria would be professional experience.

He also said the process of destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile was nearing completion, with only two remaining depots yet to be destroyed. Ten out of 12 facilities have already been destroyed and the remaining two will also be eliminated, he said answering a TASS question. However he said there were some logistics problems which were being addressed. Among such problems he cited shortages of explosives.

The twelve chemical weapons production facilities in Syria included seven depots and five underground structures. In his report at the United Nations Security Council in August, Ahmet Uzumcu, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said the remaining two deports were inaccessible due to the security situation.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council held a regular monthly closed-door meeting on the problems of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. According to diplomats, the meeting focused on preparations for the launch of a joint mechanism of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to establish those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria, which is to be set up under resolution 2235 adopted in August.

On August 7, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2235 on establishment of an OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism to identify the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. On September 10, recommendations of the United Nations Secretary General on the structure and organization of the mission’s work were adopted. The mission is to have limited presence in Syria due to security considerations.

The mission will be headquartered in New York. The head office will deal with planning and legal issues. Another office will be located in The Hague. It will conduct chemical and medical analysis, forensic studies and examine fragments of shells presumably used in chemical attacks.

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