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Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons

Thank you very much President.


And I want to thank you, Under Secretary-General Izumi, for your informative briefing today.


I want to begin by stressing the importance of maintaining our collective commitment to upholding the international legal norm against Chemical Weapons. These are abhorrent weapons and there can be no justification for their use at any time, anywhere.


The OPCW’s role in maintaining the absolute prohibition on Chemical Weapons remains essential, as the independent organisation mandated by the international community to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention.


In carrying out this role, the OPCW has clearly and repeatedly demonstrated its integrity, professionalism and impartiality, including in its work on Syria. 


The ongoing efforts within the Council and externally, to politicise the work and findings of the OPCW and to defend Syria’s actions, are deeply disturbing. 


This Council should be united and clear in its full support for the OPCW and Director General Arias and in rejecting disinformation efforts aimed at undermining the work of the Organisation. 


The efforts by Syria, and others, to frustrate the work of the OPCW have serious consequences.


For more than eight years, the OPCW has sought to resolve serious issues around Syria’s declarations. 20 substantive issues are outstanding. These cover production facilities, stockpiles of munitions and agents, and research and development activities left undeclared by Syria.


Over the same period, the OPCW, with clear and compelling evidence, has shown 17 incidents where chemical weapons were likely or definitely used in Syria, in some cases by ISIL, but in most cases by the Syrian air force. These attacks have led to the deaths of hundreds of people, and lasting injury and suffering for many more.


Similar conclusions have been reached by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry and the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mission. There is no justification for these attacks and no one should be allowed to confuse or excuse these facts.

Mr President,


The Council must uphold its decisions in Resolution 2118, and stand united behind the OPCW in its work to ensure that Syria’s chemical weapons programme is verifiably destroyed.


At the same time, Syria should engage in serious and meaningful cooperation with the OPCW. This is the only route to a resolution of this file.


We hope the proposed meeting between DG Arias and Foreign Minister Mekdad will take place soon, and that it will focus on achieving concrete outcomes. Ireland calls on Syria to engage sincerely with the OPCW to finalise arrangements for this meeting.


The Technical Secretariat has made clear the concrete actions necessary to resolve outstanding issues with Syria’s declarations. Syria should implement these and provide the necessary clarity on all outstanding matters.


We urge Syria to cease blocking the DAT’s deployment to Syria, now outstanding for almost a year. Under Resolution 2118 and the CWC, Syria is obliged to provide “immediate and unfettered access” for OPCW personnel in Syria. We call on Syria to issue the necessary visas for all members of the DAT to enable the Organisation’s inspection work continue.


Syria’s engagement should take the form of positive, productive action rather than excuses and delays.


Ireland will continue to support all efforts to resolve the outstanding issues on this file.

Thank you, President.

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