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.
Let me first underline Norway’s steadfast confidence in Director-General Arias and the OPCW. We firmly reject any efforts to discredit their important work.
President, since our last meeting, the Fact-Finding Mission has published two reports on chemical weapons use in Syria.
The first report investigates incidents in Marea in September 2015. The FFM concludes that there are reasonable grounds to believe that on 1 September 2015 in Marea, a vesicant chemical substance was used as a weapon.
The second report investigates an incident in Kafr Zeita in October 2016, concluding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an industrial chlorine cylinder was used as a weapon.
The report from the Fact-Finding Mission reflects a rigorous, evidence-based analysis. We applaud the FFM for the undertaking of collecting, comparing, and scrutinizing evidence amid the challenges posed by the global pandemic.
Norway strongly condemns the use of a chemical weapon in Marea and Kafr Zeita, just as we condemn any use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, by anyone. Accountability for those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be ensured.
Turning now to the monthly report, February marks one year since the last round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) and the Syrian authorities. This has been followed by months of persistent delays to the issuance of visas, despite successful deployments of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission and Secretariat to Syria in December last year.
This situation is simply untenable.
We would like to underline Syria’s obligation to cooperate fully with the OPCW, including the DAT. 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.
let me conclude by reiterating that there remain 20 outstanding issues from Syria’s initial declaration that are unresolved. We urge Syria to provide sufficient technical information and explanations to close these outstanding issues.
Similarly, we urge Syria to complete the necessary measures to lift the suspension of its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.