Statement by Ambassador Kelly at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons
Statement05 October 2021
Thank you, Mr. President.
And I want to thank you, Izumi, for your detailed and informative briefing today.
I would like to make three points.
Firstly, Council should be united and firm in upholding the international prohibition against chemical weapons, making it clear that the use of these weapons by anyone, anywhere, at any time is abhorrent and unacceptable.
Council should be equally clear and united in its support for the OPCW, and in rejecting efforts to undermine the essential role of the OPCW.
Secondly, we remain deeply concerned by Syria’s lack of progress in addressing the serious and growing list of issues under its initial declaration.
The OPCW reports make clear a disturbing pattern of visa delays and denials used to hold up its work on the ground. This contrasts with the approach of the Technical Secretariat, who have actively sought to assist Syria, with flexibility and professionalism, to resolve outstanding issues. We regret that the Syrian government has not responded in a positive way to this constructive approach and seems more intent on creating obstacles.
We deeply regret Syria’s decision to refuse a visa to a member of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), leading to the further postponement of the DAT deployment, originally planned for May. As the report makes clear, Syria cannot select experts for missions on behalf of the Technical Secretariat. The Secretariat’s invitation to Syria to send a delegation for a meeting with the DAT later this month in The Hague is a practical interim step but cannot replace the planned deployment on the ground.
This follows repeated substantial visa delays for the command post officer in Damascus, with implications for DAT and Fact Finding Mission deployments.
Syria’s actions on visas are contrary to their obligations in Resolution 2118 to accept “personnel designated by the OPCW or the United Nations” and to provide “immediate and unfettered access”. We call upon Syria to urgently address this matter.
Thirdly, the list of areas where the Syrian authorities have yet to provide credible information requested by the OPCW continues to grow.
These include mis-declared chemical weapon production facilities; schedule 2 Chemicals from Bazrah; samples of a “neat chemical warfare agent” from large volume storage containers: and chlorine canisters, forming part of the evidence from the 2018 Douma chemical weapons attack, moved without informing the OPCW.
Syria must engage seriously with the OPCW and we hope that the arrangements for the bilateral meeting between DG Arias and Minister Mekdad can be finalised soon. We encourage Syria to engage with DG Arias, to break the impasse.
It’s only through Syria’s real and meaningful cooperation with the OPCW that we can resolve the outstanding issues, gain assurance that its entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared and verifiably destroyed, in line with its obligations under the CWC and Resolution 2118, and close this file.
This is surely in Syria’s interest, as much as it is for the international community.
Thank you, Mr. President.