OPCW Executive Council adopts plan for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme in the first half of 2014
Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission (Left) and OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu arrive at the Executive Council meeting on 15 November 2013 to discuss the destruction plan of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme.
The OPCW Executive Council (EC) approved today a detailed plan of destruction to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. In the plan, Syrian chemical weapons will be transported for destruction outside its territory to ensure their destruction in the “safest and soonest manner”, and no later than June 30th 2014.
“I welcome the decision reached today by the Executive Council,” said OPCW Director General Ahmet Ümzücü. “The plan provides a clear roadmap. It sets ambitious milestones to be met by the Government of Syria. This next phase will be the most challenging and its prompt execution will require the existence of a secure environment for the verification and transport of chemical weapons. Continuing international support and assistance for this attempt will remain crucial.”
“I wish to express my sincere appreciation for all the States who have supported this mission – through both financial and in-kind contributions,” said OPCW-UN Joint Mission Special Coordinator Sigrid Kaag addressing the Council. “I am currently reaching out to others to consider joining this international effort, which is key to the successful implementation of the Executive Council’s decision”
The EC’s decision distinguishes between destruction actions “in the Syrian Arab Republic” and destruction activities “outside the territory” of Syria and stipulates intermediate destruction milestones leading to the complete elimination of its chemical weapons programme.
The plan envisions the removal of all declared chemical substances and precursors, except for isopropanol, from Syria no later than 5 February 2014 with the “most critical” chemicals to be transported out of Syria by 31 December 2013. Syrian declared chemical weapons facilities, will undergo sequenced destruction from 15 December 2013 to 15 March 2014 according to a risk-based criterion.
With respect to activities outside Syria, the Executive Council decided that the destruction of the priority chemical weapons will be completed by 31 March 2014 and all other declared chemical materials by 30 June 2014.
The OPCW Director-General will present a specific plan for the destruction of Syrian chemicals outside the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic which includes provisions for ensuring clear responsibility at each stage for all chemicals and takes into account all relevant consideration, including target dates, requirements for safety and security, and overall costs. The Director-General is also requested to establish a special Trust Fund for this purpose and to keep the Executive Council informed on progress and if target dates will be modified.
Reporting on the progress on the ground, the Director-General informed the Executive Council that the OPCW-UN Joint Mission was able to verify the destruction of over 60 percent of Syria’s declared unfilled munitions to date. As per the Executive Council decision, the Syrian Arab Republic has committed to destroy all unfilled munitions, composed of warheads and bombs, by 31 January 2014.
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