I would like to thank Director Markram for his briefing on the monthly report on the progress towards full elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program.
It is discouraging to note, yet again, that very little progress has been made regarding the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.
The Syrian Arab Republic must fulfil its obligations in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, and Security Council Resolution 2118.
We do note the recent exchange of correspondence between Director-General Arias, and Syrian Foreign Minister Mekdad, regarding a proposed in-person meeting to discuss relevant developments, and a way forward regarding the Secretariat’s mandated activities in the Syrian Arabic Republic.
Furthermore, we are pleased to see that the issue of the OPCW staff member’s visa has been resolved. We regret, however, that it took so long to do so.
It is troubling to note that two chlorine cylinders - related to the chemical weapon incident that took place in Douma in 2018 - have been moved from where investigators last inspected them. This is despite the Secretariat’s advice to not open, move, or alter the containers or their contents without the consent of the Secretariat. We echo the OPCW in requesting the Syrian Arab Republic to provide all relevant information regarding the movement, and any remains of, the cylinders.
Similarly, it is disappointing to hear that the deployment of the Declaration Assessment Team has been postponed for nearly three months now. Regular consultations are vital to maintaining consistent cooperation, exchanges of information, and technical assistance. It is urgent that this issue be resolved.
Norway urges Syria to fully cooperate with the OPCW, and provide sufficient technical information or explanation to close the 20 outstanding issues.
It is critical that Syria completes the necessary measures in order to lift the suspension of its rights and privileges as a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.
We cannot continue to allow the international norm against the use of chemical weapons to erode.
Let me conclude by reiterating Norway’s steadfast confidence in the work of Director-General Arias, the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, and their commitment to ensure that upholding this vital norm is a priority.