Syria continues to disobey chemical weapons watchdogs, the UN Security Council is informed


The Syrian regime has neither “cooperated fully, nor been transparent with the OPCW,” according to the US envoy at the UN.

On Monday, the UN’s high representative for disarmament affairs and under-secretary-general for disarmament affairs told the Security Council that her organisation had not yet addressed issues and statements made by the Syrian government regarding the termination of its chemical weapons programme and the destruction of stockpiles.

Izumi Nakamitsu stated that in accordance with Resolution 2118, which the council approved in 2013 in response to worries about the use of such weapons against civilians during the country’s conflict, there are 20 unresolved issues with Syria’s chemical weapons programme that must be addressed and resolved.

In and around the capital, Damascus, the Syrian government is alleged by the UN and human rights organisations to have used chemical weapons against its population on at least three occasions—August 2013, April 2017, and April 2018—resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and the injury of thousands.

According to Nakamitsu, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs regularly communicate regarding actions taken to carry out Resolution 2118.

She claimed that efforts by her department and other UN organisations to get further information about the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons programme and the amount of nerve agents it still possesses have failed. There are still “gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies” in the declarations made by the Syrian government, she continued.

Nakamitsu emphasised the importance of the Syrian government’s cooperation with the OPWC in resolving all outstanding concerns pertaining to its chemical programme.

“At this time, the OPCW technical secretariat assesses that the declaration submitted by the Syrian Arab Republic still cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention,” she continued.

The use of chemical weapons against civilians at any point during the ongoing civil conflict, which started in 2011, was denied by a Syrian delegate to the UN, who also condemned their use “anywhere in the world and under any circumstances.”

The Syrian official continued, “We affirm Syria’s full and transparent cooperation with the OPCW and fulfilment of all its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. We reiterate our rejection of the false accusation and lies that some have levelled against my nation.”

He claimed that his nation made the strategic choice to join the convention in 2013 and had submitted thorough information about its arsenal and the weapons it had destroyed.

He disputed that the Syrian government was being unhelpful or holding up the technical assessment teams’ work.

The Syrian regime has neither “cooperated fully, nor been transparent with the OPCW,” according to the US envoy at the UN.

The Iranian representative defended the Syrian government, claiming that it was abiding by the Chemical Weapons Convention. He demanded “credible” and “impartial” investigations into the use of such weapons in Syria and accused Western nations of having “double standards” in regard to chemical weapons.

He continued by saying that rather than taking a purely technical and scientific approach to the problem of chemical weapons, the West is employing a “political approach” that he called “unconstructive.”

Other speakers criticised the use of chemical weapons, backed efforts by international organisations to eradicate them, and demanded that Syria fully abide by its duties under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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