Thank you to High Representative Nakamitsu for your briefing, and Director General Arias for the monthly report from the OPCW. Unfortunately, we meet again without major positive developments since last month on the full elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.
We have received a second report from the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team and we applaud them for collecting, comparing, and scrutinising evidence amid the challenges posed by the global pandemic.
The IIT - in its rigorous, evidence-based analysis - unfortunately concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Syrian Arab Air Force was responsible for an attack with chlorine on Saraqib in February 2018.
With this, the IIT and the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mission have now attributed a total of eight cases of the use of chemical weapons to the Syrian authorities, and two cases to the so-called Islamic State.
Norway condemns the use of a chemical weapon in Saraqib, just as we condemn any use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, by anyone.
Norway welcomes the April decision of the ‘Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention’, to suspend certain rights and privileges of the Syrian Arab Republic under the convention. As you know, the decision was made in response to the conclusions in the IIT’s first report from April last year.
We urge the Syrian Arab Republic to fulfil its obligations in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Security Council Resolution 2118.
Turning now to the monthly report from the OPCW. Norway welcomes the deployment of the Fact-Finding Mission to collect information, and conduct interviews regarding incidents in Kafr Zita, Hama in October 2016. And we look forward to a report of their findings in due time.
However, we note with concern the opening of a new outstanding issue - on top of the 19 issues which have remained outstanding now for far too long. This latest issue regards the detection of a neat chemical warfare agent found in samples collected by the Declaration Assessment Team last September. The Syrian authorities must provide information to resolve this finding immediately, and at the latest during the next round of consultations with the DAT.
I would like to conclude by reiterating Norway’s steadfast confidence in the OPCW. We firmly reject any efforts to discredit their important work. We must not tolerate this impunity, or allow the essential global norm against the use of chemical weapons to erode.