I would like to thank High Representative for Disarmament Ms. Nakamitsu for her briefing on the progress towards full elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program.
The international prohibition against the use of chemical weapons must remain a top priority for this Council. We reiterate our strong condemnation of any use of chemical weapons; anytime; by anyone.
As we usher in a new year, let me be clear in saying that we owe it to the victims to ensure that there can be no impunity for chemical weapons attacks. Moving to the recent report by the Director-General, we are encouraged by two positive developments that we would like to highlight:
First, we welcome the deployment of the OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission to Syria between 28 November and 10 December last year. Their efforts to collect information, and conduct interviews, regarding several incidents that took place in 2017 in the Hama Governorate, are crucial for ensuring accountability.
Similarly, we are pleased to note that the Secretariat conducted the eighth round of inspections of the Barzah, and Jamrayah facilities of the SSRC also this past December. After many months without inspections, or missions to collect information, we hope this recent engagement will foster a new spirit of progress on this dossier for 2022. And we look forward to their reports to the Council.
Yet, in order to fully implement Security Council Resolution 2118, there remain numerous roadblocks to overcome and issues that require immediate attention. These include the persistent delays to the issuance of visas to the Declarations Assessment Team (DAT) which must be addressed. I would like to underline Syria’s obligation to cooperate fully with the OPCW. Resolution 2118 explicitly mentions Syria’s obligation to: accept personnel designated by the OPCW, to provide these personnel with immediate and unfettered access, and the right to inspect any and all sites.
Which brings me to my next point: The OPCW has requested further information about a reported attack on a former chemical weapons production facility, which apparently contained equipment of relevance to an ongoing OPCW investigation. The OPCW has also requested the declaration of all undeclared types, and quantities, of nerve agents produced, and/or weaponized, at a certain former chemical weapons production facility. It is vital that Syria comply with these requests.
Similarly, 20 outstanding issues remain from Syria’s initial declaration that are unresolved. We urge Syria to provide sufficient technical information and explanations to close these outstanding issues. Finally, it is critical that Syria completes the necessary measures to lift the suspension of its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Colleagues, let me conclude by underlining that cooperation is essential for settling all unresolved issues, and finally achieving this 8-year-long effort to ensure the full elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program.