CITY OF NEW YORK: On Monday, the UN’s under-secretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs told the Security Council that her organization has yet to resolve outstanding issues and declarations made by the Syrian regime regarding the elimination of its chemical weapons program and the destruction of stockpiles.
Izumi Nakamitsu stated that 20 unresolved issues with Syria’s chemical weapons program must be addressed and resolved in accordance with Resolution 2118, which was approved by the council in 2013 in response to concerns over the use of such weapons against civilians during the country’s conflict.
The Syrian government is accused by the UN and human rights organizations of deploying chemical weapons on its citizens on at least three occasions — August 2013, April 2017, and April 2018 — in and around Damascus, killing hundreds of civilians and injuring thousands.
According to Nakamitsu, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs is in regular touch with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons about actions connected to Resolution 2118 implementation.
She claimed that her agency and other UN agencies had been unable to receive clarification on the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program and the amounts of nerve agents it still possessed. Syrian officials’ declarations continue to have “gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies,” she noted.
The Syrian regime’s cooperation with the OPWC in resolving any outstanding concerns related to its chemical program is critical, according to Nakamitsu.
“At this time, the OPCW technical secretariat believes that the Syrian Arab Republic’s declaration cannot be considered accurate and complete in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention,” she added.
A Syrian UN ambassador denied using chemical weapons against civilians at any point during the ongoing civil conflict, which began in 2011, and condemned the use of such weapons “anywhere in the world and under any circumstances.”
“We repeat our rejection of the false accusations and lies that some accuse my country of,” he said, “and we affirm Syria’s full and transparent cooperation with the OPCW and fulfillment of all its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
He stated that his government made a strategic decision to sign up for the convention in 2013 and has submitted full information about its stockpile and weapons eliminated.
He disputed that Syrian authorities were being unhelpful or delaying the OPCW’s technical assessment teams’ work.
According to the US representative to the UN, the Syrian regime is neither “cooperating fully, nor being transparent with the OPCW.”
Iran’s ambassador defended Syrian authorities, claiming that they were following the Chemical Weapons Convention. He accused Western countries of using “double standards” when it came to chemical weapons and demanded “credible” and “impartial” probes into their use in Syria.
He went on to say that the West is using a “unconstructive” “political approach” to dealing with the issue of chemical weapons, rather than a strictly technical and scientific approach.
Other speakers praised the efforts of international organizations to eradicate chemical weapons, denounced their use, and urged Syria to fully comply with its legal duties under the Chemical Weapons Convention.