Chemical Weapons in Syria – Security Council Briefing (4 October 2021)

The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu today (4 Oct) told the Security Council that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) technical secretariat “has not received yet a response from the Syrian national authority on the request for information and documentation regarding the damage caused to the declared former Chemical Weapons Production Facility (CWPF) during the attack on 8 of June 2021 reported by the Syrian National authority.”

In July this year, Syria wrote to the OPCW to report an attack on 8 June against a military installation that housed a declared former chemical weapons production facility. Following a request for further information, Syria further reported that two chlorine cylinders related to an April 2018 chemical weapons incident in the city Douma were destroyed.

Nakamitsu told the Council that the Syrian government had refused to issue an entry visa to one member of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT). She said the OPCW had responded that “the DAT expert had deployed to Syria on multiple occasions over the past seven years, and further, referred to the applicable legal framework which does not entitle the Syrian Arab Republic to select experts on behalf of the secretariat.”

The High Representative stressed that it was “only through complete cooperation by the Syrian Arab Republic with the OPCW technical secretariat that all outstanding issues related to the Syrian Arab Republic initial declaration can be closed.”

She said, “the confidence of the international community in the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme depends upon these issues being finalized.”

Syrian Ambassador Bassam, Sabbagh, for his part, told the Council that “not granting a visa to a member of the Declaration Assessment Team must not negatively affect the performance of the team. Moreover, the OPCW has a large number of experts to replace the person who was proven non-objective in the past.”

Nakamitsu presented the OPCW’s ninety-sixth monthly report to the Council, pursuant to resolution 2118 on the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.