Syria, West disagree on end of OPCW mission

Syria, West disagree on end of OPCW mission
Thu Apr 24, 2014 09:27:13

Syria has declared it was looking ahead to the dismantling of the international mission overseeing the destruction of the conflict-torn country's chemical arsenal, though Western officials said they want the team to keep working.

The statement came after Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told the Security Council that the Syrian government should be able to meet an April 27 deadline to hand over all declared chemical agents.

After the closed-door session, in which Kaag participated via video link, Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja'afari was asked what should happen to the UN-OPCW mission once declared materials linked to Syrian chemical weapons had been shipped out of the country and all installations were shut down.

"Once this mission is finished, you will hear about a final report submitted by Mrs. Kaag to the council and to the executive board of the OPCW, and that will be the end of everything," Ja'afari said.

"We will act accordingly after that as a full-fledged member of the CWC (Chemical Weapons Convention)," he said.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said in an interview that he sees the UN-OPCW mission remaining in place for the foreseeable future due to concerns about the completeness of Syria's disclosure of its chemical arsenal.

"Our view is that there is a continuing role for the joint mission well beyond the removal of the chemicals, which could happen quite quickly now, and there's a number of tasks that are still to be carried out, including verification of the destruction of production facilities," Lyall Grant said.

"That means that the joint mission should continue," he added, noting that the Security Council decision to establish the mission did not give a deadline for its termination. Russia would therefore be unable to shut down the mission, even if it wanted to, Lyall Grant said.

"Further review and verification of Syria's declaration of its CW program is required in order for there to be international confidence that the program has been completely eliminated," a US official said.


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