Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Syria Chemical Weapons
Statement03 June 2021
Thank you very much Mr President. I would like to thank you, Director General Arias, for your briefing today. Ireland has full confidence in your leadership in guiding the work of the OPCW. I also want to thank Under-Secretary General Nakamitsu for her briefing.
The OPCW plays an essential role, as the impartial and technical body mandated by the international community to address chemical weapons. The professionalism and integrity of the staff of the OPCW is clear, and we deeply regret that some members continue once again today to challenge and undermine their work, without any factual basis.
We remain deeply worried by the lack of progress by Syria in addressing the serious and growing list issues to be resolved under its initial declaration.
Director General Arias, it is asserted by some here that these issues are not significant, that there are similar issues with other States’ initial declarations and that Syria is being treated differently. Like others before me, I would like to ask you and I would be grateful for your reflections on how we should assess Syria’s efforts to address these issues in the seven since years since the DAT was formed, in particular given the very serious nature of many of these outstanding issues. It would also be interesting to hear how you, as DG, would assess the level of cooperation provided by Syria, and the nature of its responses to issues raised by the OPCW.
Equally, Syria has placed great emphasis on the material it has circulated on the possible possession of chemical weapons by non-State actors in Syria. Can I ask for your assessment of the material supplied by Syria, and the cooperation Syria has provided to efforts to follow up on this information?
Mr President, we must separate the facts from the noise. In the end, what’s evident is that Syria must fulfil its legal obligations. It must cooperate fully with the OPCW. It must resolve the serious issues with its declaration. It must ensure that its entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared - and verifiably destroyed.
Those responsible for the attacks at Ltamenah and Saraqib, as well as the multiple other documented chemical weapons attacks conducted by Syrian forces, must be held responsible. Impunity cannot be an option.
The use of chemical weapons anywhere and at any time is abhorrent and is unacceptable. This Council should be united and firm in our response to any use of these terrible weapons. We must effectively uphold the international prohibition against them. This is what the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention have done in April through their action on Syrian non-compliance. It’s regrettable that we on this Council have been unable to provide a similarly clear response.
Thank you, Mr. President.