I would like to thank the High Representative for Disarmament Ms. Nakamitsu for her statement.
Despite the grave nature of these crimes, and the global consensus on the condemnation of the use of chemical weapons; regrettably this briefing confirms that the situation- and lack of accountability- remains largely unchanged from last month.
With no new developments to comment on, I’ll focus my remarks on three issues: the monthly report, the issue of accountability and the OPCW itself.
Firstly on the OPCW monthly report on progress in the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme. Which again reports that 19 of the 22 issues from Syria’s initial declaration remain outstanding.
We remain particularly concerned that the OPCW has found reasons to doubt Syria’s declaration that a certain facility has never been used for the production of chemical weapons.
It is critical to rebuild trust, and in this regard, we continue to urge the Syrian Arab Republic to comply fully with the OPCW’s request for information about the types, and quantities, of chemical agents produced and/or weaponized at the site.
Norway remains aligned with the European Union’s restrictive measures on persons and entities involved in the development and use of chemical weapons.
Secondly, on accountability.
The use of chemical weapons in Syria is well documented and confirmed by the former OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, and the first report of the OPCW's Investigation and Identification Team.
They concluded - beyond reasonable doubt - that Syrian armed forces were responsible for the use of chemical weapons on three separate occasions in 2017.
This constitutes a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Security Council resolution 2118 of 2013.
Yet, no one has been held accountable for these atrocious acts.
This is unacceptable.
Thirdly and finally, to again express our full confidence in the OPCW and its technical secretariat.
Norway firmly rejects attempts to discredit or bring into disrepute the OPCW and the work of the Technical Secretariat.
Such attempts against the international community’s efforts in securing accountability and preventing use of Chemical Weapons are deeply concerning.