Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons
Statement06 May 2021
I would like to thank High Representative Nakamitsu for her briefing today.
Ireland believes that the use of chemical weapons anywhere and at any time is abhorrent and unacceptable. It’s only through firm, concerted action in response to their use that we can effectively uphold the international prohibition against these terrible weapons.
The OPCW has an essential role to play, as the impartial and technical body mandated by the international community to address chemical weapons. Ireland has full confidence in the work of the OPCW, in its investigations and its conclusions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
The latest OPCW report makes for disquieting reading. We had hoped to see progress in addressing Syria's initial declaration. Instead, what we find is that the long list of issues that need to be resolved has expanded yet again.
The alarming new issue concerning the Hafer 1 facility underlines the significant problems with Syria's declaration and its failure to cooperate seriously with the OPCW. As the report sets out, the presence of a "neat chemical warfare agent" from several large volume storage containers at a facility declared as unused, may imply substantial undeclared production activities by Syria.
Mr President, since we last met to discuss this file, the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) has published its second report, which concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Air Force used a chemical weapon in Saraqib in February 2018.
Regrettably, the Syrian response to all these findings has continually been characterised by unacceptable obfuscation, misinformation and misdirection.
In this regard, a significant step forward was taken at The Hague on 21 April, when the Conference of States Parties to the CWC overwhelmingly decided to take action against Syrian non-compliance.
This was not a decision taken lightly by anyone. It reflects the gravity of Syria's actions and the international concerns that they have raised. It’s a necessary and proportionate response to the failure of the Syrian authorities to meet their basic obligations under the CWC.
The CSP Decision, and that of the OPCW Executive Council last July, make crystal clear the actions Syria must take to comply with the CWC.
The OPCW has fulfilled its responsibilities by investigating and clearly attributing responsibility for chemical weapons use in Syria. The States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have fulfilled theirs, by taking appropriate and proportionate action against the Syrian government. The Security Council must work together, to uphold the international prohibition against chemical weapons, in the face of this threat to international peace and security.
And, put simply, Syria must fulfil its legal obligations: it must cooperate fully with the OPCW and ensure its entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared - and verifiably destroyed.
Ireland unequivocally condemns the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria and calls for accountability for the perpetrators.
Thank you, Mr. President.