Syria’s Declaration of Compliance with Chemical Weapons Convention Still Inaccurate Due to Persisting Gaps, Inconsistencies, Top Disarmament Official Tells Security Council

Several Delegates Upset over Obstruction of Technical Experts’ Work, But Damascus Representative Says Government Cooperating with Investigations

Due to persisting gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved, Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons programme still cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Nations disarmament chief told the Security Council today, urging that country to cooperate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) without delay.

Updating the Council on developments over the past month, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu reported that, while Syria has submitted 17 amendments and several supplements to its initial declaration, 20 of the 24 outstanding issues opened by the Declaration Assessment Team in 2014 remain unresolved, involving, among other things, undeclared research, production and/or weaponization of unknown quantities of chemical weapons.  “Full cooperation by the Syrian Arab Republic with the OPCW Technical Secretariat is essential to closing these outstanding issues,” she said.

Aside from not submitting the requested declarations, Syria has also not yet responded to requests from OPCW’s Technical Secretariat for information and documentation on the damage caused to the declared former chemical weapons production facility during the 8 June 2021 attack, or information on the unauthorized movement and remains of two destroyed cylinders related to the 7 April 2018 chemical weapon incident in Douma.

The Technical Secretariat’s attempts since April 2021 to schedule the twenty-fifth round of consultations between Syria and the Declaration Assessment Team in Damascus have been stymied by Syria’s continued refusal of an entry visa for one member of the Assessment Team, she said, adding that its efforts to convene a meeting with Syrian experts at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague in late October 2021 were also unsuccessful.  She urged Syria to allow immediate, unfettered access to the personnel designated by the OPCW Secretariat as soon as possible.

The Technical Secretariat conducted the eighth round of inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre from 10 to 17 December 2021, the outcome for which will be reported in due course, she said.  However, Syria has yet to provide sufficient technical information or explanations that would enable the Technical Secretariat to close the issue concerning the detection of a “Schedule 2” chemical at the Centre’s Barzah facilities in November 2018.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the Russian Federation said the Syrian chemical weapons dossier was among the most “politicized” dossiers on the Council’s agenda, and “a pain in everyone’s neck”.  He described the topic as a fairy tale, stating that it had nothing to do with non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Challenging the credibility of the fact-finding mission’s collection of information in November 2021, he also pointed out that the Declaration Assessment Team’s next round of consultations were postponed by the OPCW Technical Secretariat leadership under a politicized pretext regarding non‑issuance of a visa to a team member, despite Syria’s readiness for their visit.  The OPCW Director-General has been invited to Damascus, but refused the invitation, he said, adding that the Russian Federation will invite the Director‑General again to the Council so that he can give clear explanations for pending questions.

The speaker for the United States said that, in its trip to Syria last month, the fact-finding mission collected essential information about the use of chemical weapons in 2017, which should help hold the Syrian authorities accountable.  She expressed disappointment that the Technical Secretariat’s ninety-ninth report revealed Syria’s obstruction of OPCW’s work.  Pointing out every amendment to Syria’s declaration is the result of OPCW’s work, she noted that Syria has blocked the next round of consultations for the past nine months, and has failed to accept proposed solutions by OPCW.  Damascus should fulfil its obligations by granting the Declaration Assessment Team access to its territory, she stressed.

In a similar vein, France’s representative pointed out that Damascus has not issued a visa for one member in a clear determination to obstruct proceedings.  The Council is meeting today because Syria used chemical weapons against its own population, he said, stressing:  “This is not a fairy tale, but a war crime.”  If Syria wishes for its rights to be restored, it must fulfil its obligations.  The disinformation campaign against the Technical Secretariat must stop, he said.

Likewise, Ireland’s representative characterized as “unacceptable” Syrian efforts to interfere in the selection of OPCW-designated experts, thus preventing the deployment, emphasizing:  “Syria cannot pick and choose which of its legal obligations it is willing to accept.”

Meanwhile, Brazil’s delegate called for trust to be restored between OPCW and Syria, as a fundamental step towards overcoming the regrettable politicization that has undermined the culture of consensus within OPCW and its decision-making bodies.  Welcoming recent efforts by the OPCW Director‑General and Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates to hold an in-person meeting as a constructive confidence-building approach that paves the way for comprehensive dialogue, he encouraged the Syrian Government to provide full access to the OPCW expert teams, including by issuing the necessary visas.

Taking the floor after Council members, Syria’s representative stated that, since joining the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, his country has cooperated with the United Nations to eliminate its stockpiles and production facilities, a process that was completed in record time, in mid-2014.  He rejected the disinformation campaign launched by some Western nations, which have adopted a hostile policy against Syria and created the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, adding that, as a result, reports by the OPCW Technical Secretariat have become part and parcel of a hostile Western campaign.

Noting that Syria’s Foreign Minister sent a letter to the Technical Secretariat about the inaccurate information contained in these reports, he pointed out that discussions are under way to facilitate a meeting between Syria’s Foreign Minister and the OPCW Director-General.  As well, Syria already facilitated 24 rounds of consultations with the Declaration Assessment Team.  The fact that two United Nations teams visited Syria within one month further demonstrates the Government’s cooperation with OPCW, he said, rejecting allegations of its obstructionism. 

Also speaking today were the representatives of Kenya, Ghana, China, India, Mexico, Gabon, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Albania, Norway, Iran and Turkey.

The meeting began at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 4:44 p.m.

Briefing

IZUMI NAKAMITSU, Under‑Secretary‑General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, introducing  the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) latest monthly report (document S/2021/1103), on implementation of Security Council resolution 2118 (2013) regarding the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme, said she held a monthly call with the OPCW Director-General on 29 December 2021 to receive an update on developments.  The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs received information on 27 December 2021 from the Permanent Mission of Syria, referring to a letter sent by the Syrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates to the OPCW Director-General concerning information on chemical weapons issues, which was studied carefully and forwarded to the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s ability to deploy to Syria, it is continuing its mandated activities despite continued travel restrictions, she said.  The OPCW Declaration Assessment Team’s efforts remain ongoing to clarify all outstanding issues related to the initial and subsequent declarations by Syria in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.  Syria has submitted 17 amendments and several supplements to its initial declaration.  However, 20 of the 24 outstanding issues opened by the Assessment Team in 2014 remain unresolved, and involve undeclared research, production and/or weaponization of unknown quantities of chemical weapons, among other things, as well as significant quantities of chemical warfare agents or precursors and chemical munitions whose fate has not yet been fully verified by the OPCW Secretariat.

Syria has not submitted the requested declarations from Syria, she said, nor responded to the Technical Secretariat’s requests for information and documentation on the damage caused to the declared former chemical weapons production facility during the 8 June 2021 attack, or information on the unauthorized movement and remains of two destroyed cylinders related to the 7 April 2018 chemical weapon incident in Douma.  She called on Syria to respond to the requests as soon as possible.

Since April 2021, the OPCW Technical Secretariat has attempted to schedule the twenty-fifth round of consultations between Syria and the Declaration Assessment Team in Damascus, she continued.  However, Syria continues to refuse an entry visa for one member of the Assessment Team.  The Technical Secretariat’s efforts to convene a limited meeting with Syrian experts at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague in late October 2021 were also unsuccessful.  She urged Syria to allow immediate, unfettered access to the personnel designated by the OPCW Secretariat as soon as possible, stressing: “Full cooperation by the Syrian Arab Republic with the OPCW Technical Secretariat is essential to closing these outstanding issues.” Due to identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved, the Technical Secretariat continues to assess that, at this stage, the declaration submitted by Syria cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, she said.

The Technical Secretariat conducted the eighth round of inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre from 10 to 17 December 2021, the outcome for which will be reported in due course, she said.  However, Syria has yet to provide sufficient technical information or explanations that would enable the OPCW Technical Secretariat to close the issue concerning the detection of a “Schedule 2” chemical at the Centre’s Barzah facilities in November 2018.

Turning to the in-person meeting between the OPCW Director-General and Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, she said the officials in charge of preparations continue to discuss the date, location, agenda and composition of the delegations.  The OPCW fact-finding mission is studying all available information related to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, and deployed to the country between 28 November and 10 December 2021 to collect information and conduct interviews regarding the incidents that took place in 2017.  It continues to analyse information collected and prepare for upcoming deployments, which remain subject to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Turning to the decision adopted on 21 April 2021 at the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention at its twenty-fifth session, she said Syria has unfortunately not yet completed any of the measures stipulated in “paragraph 5” of the decision; therefore, she reiterated her call on Syria to fully cooperate with the OPCW Technical Secretariat in this regard.

Statements

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said OPCW’s work remains essential, applauding its efforts despite Syria’s obstructionism.  In its trip to that country last month, the fact-finding mission collected essential information about the use of chemical weapons in 2017.  These facts should help hold the Syrian authorities accountable.  Her delegation stands firmly behind the fact-finding mission and its impartial evaluation and analysis of findings.  It is disappointing that the Technical Secretariat’s ninety-ninth report revealed Syria’s obstruction of OPCW’s work.  Syria’s initial declaration cannot be considered accurate or complete under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Council resolution 2118 (2013).  For the past nine months, Syria has blocked the next round of consultations and failed to accept proposed solutions by OPCW.  Every amendment to Syria’s declaration is the result of OPCW’s work.  Damascus should fulfil its obligations by granting the Declaration Assessment Team access to its territory.  It is time for the Syrian regime to cease its obstructionism and for the Syrian people to have justice.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), introducing the newly elected Council members to one of the most “politicized” dossiers on the Council’s agenda, described the topic as a fairy tale.  The Syrian “chemical dossier” has had nothing to do with non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Its non‑proliferation aspects have been closed and the Secretary-General reported to the Council in June 2014 that the final elimination of Syria’s stockpiles was confirmed.  Rejecting the use of staged videos as evidence, he said they were produced by non-governmental organizations, such as the “white helmets”, that oppose the Syrian Government.  He challenged the credibility of the fact-finding mission’s collection of information in November 2021, doubting that anyone interviewed could give details of what happened four years ago.  Despite Syria’s readiness to receive the Declaration Assessment Team for the next round of consultations, they were again postponed by the OPCW Technical Secretariat leadership under a politicized pretext regarding non-issuance of a visa to a team member.  The OPCW Director-General has been invited to Damascus, but he refused the invitation.  The Russian Federation will invite the Director-General again to the Council so that he can give clear explanations for pending questions.  The United Nations Secretariat and OPCW’s Technical Secretariat are turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Syria, he said, pointing to the November 2021 report of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), which gives evidence of chemical weapons’ use by that group in 2014 and 2016.  The so-called Syrian chemical dossier has lost impartiality and became nothing more than another lever of anti-Syrian criticism for Western colleagues, he said, calling the topic “a pain in everyone’s neck”.

MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya), reiterating his country’s previous position on the Syrian dossier in light of few recent developments, said the expeditious closure of investigations into the use of chemical weapons will allow the Council to support the Syrian people more meaningfully in their quest for lasting peace.  Welcoming the agreement on the extension of the Tripartite Agreement among OPCW, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and Syria, he encouraged similar good‑faith cooperation between Damascus and the OPCW Secretariat on all remaining gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies.  OPCW bears a great responsibility and must be transparent, free of politicization and capable of withstanding scrutiny, he stressed, reiterating Kenya’s principled position against the use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anyone and under any circumstances.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), condemning the use of such weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances, encouraged Syria, as a State party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, to fully cooperate with designated entities in accordance with its obligations, including by facilitating the deployment of verification teams to Syria.  Further, he emphasized the need for accountability for violations of the Chemical Weapons Convention in Syria, adding that all perpetrators identified in the April 2020 findings of OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team should be held accountable for their specific roles in the attacks.  He called on Syria to provide the necessary data and clarity necessary to resolve gaps and inconsistencies in its initial and subsequent declarations on its chemical weapons stockpile, and hoped that its suspended rights and privileges under the Chemical Weapons Convention can be restored as soon as possible once the pending issues have been resolved.

SUN ZHIQIANG (China) welcomed progress stated in the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s latest monthly report, including the eighth round of inspections conducted in the Scientific Studies and Research Centre’s Barzah and Jamrayah facilities from 10 to 17 December 2021, as well as the extension until 30 June 2022 of the Tripartite Agreement between OPCW, Syria and UNOPS.  He encouraged the Technical Secretariat to maintain engagement with Syria, and hoped it will be open and flexible to avoid a stalemate in discussions.  On the issue of Syria’s refusal of a visa to one member of the Declaration Assessment Team, he asked whether a replacement can be found, or if other members can be deployed in their stead.  He called on countries to desist from politicizing OPCW’s work, and hoped its Director-General will be objective and foster unity and cooperation among States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) reiterating Brazil’s strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, stressed that there can be no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that all investigations pertaining to the use of chemical weapons in the country must be impartial, balanced, technical and comprehensive.  Trust must be restored between OPCW and Syria, a fundamental step towards overcoming the regrettable politicization that has undermined the culture of consensus within OPCW and its decision-making bodies.  Welcoming recent efforts by the OPCW Director-General and Syria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates to hold an in-person meeting as a constructive confidence-building approach that paves the way for comprehensive dialogue, he also welcomed the extension of the Tripartite Agreement among Syria, OPCW and UNOPS.  He encouraged the Syrian Government to provide full access to the OPCW expert teams, including by issuing the necessary visas.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) said it is his country’s principled position that the Chemical Weapons Convention is a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument for elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction, and therefore stands for its full, effective and non-discriminatory implementation.  Expressing support for the collective efforts by all the parties to ensure that the Convention’s credibility and integrity are maintained to the fullest.  India has consistently maintained that any investigation into the use of chemical weapons must be impartial, credible and objective.  UNITAD reports have also referred to the repeated deployments of chemical weapons by United Nations-proscribed terrorist groups and those affiliated to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) between 2014 and 2016.  Therefore, allegations of the use of chemical weapons need to be addressed with utmost attention.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said the lack of progress in the file, despite the OPCW Technical Secretariat’s best efforts, is a matter of serious concern.  Substantial issues relating to undeclared research, production and weaponization of unknown quantities of chemical weapons make the seven-month delay to the twenty-fifth round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and the Syrian authorities a serious matter, she stressed, adding that Syrian efforts to interfere in the selection of OPCW-designated experts, thus preventing the deployment, are unacceptable.  She called on the Council to uphold the requirements it set out in resolution 2118 (2013) and on Syria to fully cooperate with OPCW, including through the provision of immediate, unfettered access.  “Syria cannot pick and choose which of its legal obligations it is willing to accept,” she emphasized.  Welcoming the eighth round of inspections of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre’s Barzah and Jamrayah facilities and ongoing work by the fact-finding mission and its inspections in December 2021 at four sites connected with possible chemical weapons use in 2017, she expressed hope that the proposed bilateral meeting between OPCW Director‑General Fernando Arias and Syrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Faisal Mekdad will take place as soon as possible.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said the Council is meeting today because Syria used chemical weapons against its own population.  Recalling that the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2118 (2013), requesting a complete destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles, he said Syria has since resorted to the use of these weapons.  This is not a fairy tale, but a war crime, he said.  Damascus has not issued a visa for one member in a clear determination to obstruct proceedings.  If Syria wishes for its rights to be restored, it must fulfil its obligations, he said, stressing that the disinformation campaign against the Technical Secretariat must stop.  France is firmly committed to fighting impunity.  Victims are now turning to national courts and there will be no clemency for criminals.  This is the message by the International Partnership Against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons.

ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) said her delegation awaits the outcome of inspections that took place in December 2021 and welcomed the appointment of Syria’s representative to discuss a meeting between the OPCW Director-General and Syria’s Foreign Minister.  Expressing regret over bureaucratic obstacles to visa issuance, she called on Syria’s authorities to cooperate with OPCW and to clear up 20 pending questions pertaining to the initial declaration.  Mexico is also concerned about the unauthorized transfer of destroyed cylinders.  Welcoming the six-month extension of the tripartite agreement among Syria, OPCW and UNOPS, she said the agreement should last longer so that United Nations agencies can plan their work with greater certainty.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) condemned the use of chemical weapons, which pose a serious threat to international peace and security.  Taking note of declarations made by Syria on the destruction of its chemical weapons facility and on the transfer of chemical weapons, he noted that Gabon remains nonetheless concerned by pending issues related to Syria’s initial declarations, only a small amount of which have been resolved eight years later.  He expressed concern about the Declaration Assessment Team’s difficulties in deploying to the ground due to problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as issues related to the issuance of an entry visa by Syria.  He encouraged cooperation between Syria and the OPCW Technical Secretariat and hoped the six-month extension of the Tripartite Agreement between Syria, OPCW and UNOPS will facilitate constructive cooperation.

MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) reaffirmed his country’s principled position, rejecting and condemning the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances, by anyone and anywhere, as their use constitutes a flagrant violation of the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention and international law.  Making tangible progress on the file requires non-politicization and a willingness to engage in constructive dialogue, he said, stressing the importance of dialogue between OPCW and Syria to identify ways to move forward.  In this context, the United Arab Emirates calls on parties to work together to facilitate the visit of the Declaration Assessment Team to Syria.  He emphasized the need to eliminate all chemical weapons, whether inside or outside Syria, and stressed the need to continue working with States Parties and OPCW to eliminate the threat completely.  Further, he stressed the importance of continuing to combat ISIL/Da’esh, and to intensify efforts to prevent it from building its combat capabilities and acquiring and using chemical weapons.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said that, despite international cooperation in 2013, it became clear that Syria has retained chemical weapons capability, contravening resolution 2118 (2013) and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Today, 20 issues with Syria’s initial declaration remain unresolved, and Damascus consistently fails to meet its obligations.  “Syria has repeatedly refused to issue visas for OPCW personnel, made no serious effort to meet Technical Secretariat experts and shown a total disregard for decisions of the OPCW Executive Council and Conference of States Parties,” she said, adding that the Security Council’s efforts to uphold resolution 2118 (2013) have been blocked by the threat of a veto and by a concerted disinformation campaign to malign and undermine OPCW and its findings.  Against that backdrop, she called on the Security Council to “put aside narrow political motivations” in 2022 and unite behind the full implementation of resolution 2118 (2013).

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) echoed the observations made by several Council members less than a month ago, noting that Syria does not wish to cooperate with OPCW on the implementation of resolution 2118 (2013) concerning the elimination of its chemical weapons programme.  He expressed regret about Syria’s attitude and called on the Government to cooperate fully with the OPCW Technical Secretariat.  Recalling the suspension of Syria as a member of the OPCW Executive Council in April 2021, he said Albania will only agree to the restoration of Syria’s rights and privileges once the OPCW Director-General has signaled that authorities have complied with all requests.  He called on Syria to cooperate with the OPCW Technical Secretariat, adding that any attempts to politicize its work will harm its noble mission.  He underscored the need for anyone who uses or has used chemical weapons to be identified and held responsible.

MONA JUUL (Norway), Council President for January, speaking in her national capacity, welcomed the recent deployment of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission and the eighth round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre.  She also cited numerous roadblocks that must be overcome, including persistent delays in the issuance of visas to the Declarations Assessment Team, in line with resolution 2118 (2013).  She urged Syria to comply with OPCW requests for information about a reported attack on a former chemical weapons production facility, which apparently contained equipment of relevance to an ongoing OPCW investigation, and for a declaration of all undeclared types and quantities of nerve agents produced and/or weaponized at a certain former chemical weapons production facility.  Pointing to the 20 outstanding issues from Syria’s initial declaration that remain unresolved, she said it is critical that Syria completes the necessary measures to lift the suspension of its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) condemned the use of chemical weapons, stressing that the Government has never used these prohibited arms, despite the threats posed by terrorist groups and their sponsors on its territory.  Since joining the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, Syria has cooperated with the United Nations to eliminate its stockpiles and production facilities, a process that was completed in record time, in mid-2014.  Rejecting the disinformation campaign launched by some Western nations, which have adopted a hostile policy against Syria and created the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team, he said that, as a result, reports by the OPCW Technical Secretariat have become part and parcel of the hostile Western campaign.  Recalling that Syria’s Foreign Minister sent a letter to the Technical Secretariat about the inaccurate information contained in these reports, he said the focal points are now working to agree on an agenda for a meeting, due to take place between Syria’s foreign minister and the OPCW Director‑General.  He noted that Syria has extended a tripartite agreement for six months.  Damascus also facilitated the eighth round of inspections at a research centre and the deployment of the Fact-Finding Mission into a 2017 incident, in which terrorist groups used chemical weapons.  He urged the United Nations not to “drag its feet” in investigating the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups and cautioned that certain Western countries often jump to conclusions before the end of the probe.  Syria already facilitated 24 rounds of consultations with the Declaration Assessment Team.  The fact that two United Nations teams visited Syria within one month demonstrates the Government’s cooperation with OPCW, he said, rejecting allegations of its obstructionism.

ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran), recalling that the elimination of all chemical weapons worldwide is the prime objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said that this goal can be realized only through the treaty’s full, balanced, effective and non-discriminatory implementation, as well as its universality.  It is therefore a source of serious concern that, due to non-compliance by the United States, this objective has yet to be realized.  Israel must be compelled to join the Convention without any precondition or further delay, she said, warning against the serious impact of politicization on the Convention’s credibility and calling for the depoliticization of OPCW’s work.  Citing significant efforts by Syria to carry out its Convention obligations, including the complete destruction of all its 27 chemical weapons production facilities as verified by OPCW, she argued that the holding of monthly Council meetings to consider the Syrian file is unjustified.  These meetings undermine the Convention’s authority and OPCW’s own credibility, she said, further deepening the deficit of trust and confidence in the Council.

Öncü Keçeli(Turkey) said there is one clear takeaway from the ninety-ninth monthly report of the OPCW Director-General:  that Syria continues to violate its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The inconsistencies, identified gaps and discrepancies in Syria’s declaration, of which at least 20 outstanding issues remain, mean that OPCW is still unable to confirm that it is accurate and complete.  Syria continuously fails to provide information that would help to uncover the true nature and scope of its chemical weapons programme.  Against this backdrop, he expressed concern about the discovery of a chemical weapons production facility in Syria, adding that the Government’s refusal to provide information on the site is a flagrant violation of its obligations under the Convention and resolution 2118 (2013).  Moreover, Syria must still account for the unauthorized movement of two chlorine cylinders related to the Douma chemical attack.  On the non-issuance of visas for officials of the Technical Secretariat, he said Syria’s non-compliance is unacceptable and calls for a strong message from the Council.  He reiterated his call on the Council to act in unity to achieve the full implementation of resolution 2118 (2013), and underlined Turkey’s support for efforts to end impunity, as well as its support for the objective, impartial and professional investigations carried out by the OPCW Technical Secretariat.

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