Head of OPCW-UN mission urges ‘final push’ to complete chemical weapons removal

Sigrid Kaag (top right), Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons programme, speaks to journalists following a closed-door meeting of the Security Council on Syria. Photo: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

8 May 2014 – The head of the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations (OPCW-UN) today called for safe and unfettered access to the remaining eight per cent of Syria’s chemical weapons material that needs to be removed and destroyed.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door briefing to the UN Security Council, Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag recalled that 92 per cent of Syria’s chemical weapons have been removed or destroyed in country so far.

The remaining eight per cent is currently inaccessible due to the security conditions, Ms. Kaag said, stressing that unfettered access is critical to ensure that the operation can be concluded quickly and on time.

“Significant milestones have been met but we do need that final push to achieve 100 per cent and to complete the work as foreseen in the entire chemical weapons elimination programme.”

The removal of the most critical material for destruction began in early January, in line with an agreement brokered by Russia and the United States, by which Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.

As per the decisions taken by the Security Council and the OPCW Executive Council, the full arsenal of Syria’s chemical weapons should be destroyed by 30 June 2014.

Ms. Kaag noted that all that remains is the removal of 16 containers. “Then the operation can be concluded very quickly. It’s a matter of less than a working week in its totality and that allows the authorities to stay as close to the 30 June deadline as possible.”


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