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Statement by Amb. Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons

Thank you very much Madam President. We’re delighted to see you in the chair and we want to wish you and your team an excellent month ahead. I want to also echo your remarks about your predecessor, Ambassador Ambarry, who was President in December. I want to say how much we agree with your remarks about his excellent Chairmanship and Presidency during December.

Welcome to all new colleagues and well done to all who have left this table.

Thank you, Izumi, for your informative briefing today.

 

The OPCW Director General’s ninety-ninth report shows once again that despite the best efforts of the OPCW technical secretariat, there has been no progress on this file. This is a matter of serious concern.

 

As the report makes clear, the work of the Declaration Assessment Team to assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria’s declarations is essential. This work has been central to the 17 amendments and numerous supplements made to the declaration.

 

These are substantial issues relating to undeclared research, production and weaponisation of unknown quantities of chemical weapons, and significant quantities of chemical warfare agents or precursors and chemical munitions. They go to the very heart of the serious concerns that Syria continues to retain a chemical weapons capacity.

 

This is what makes the seven-month delay to the twenty-fifth round of consultations between the DAT and the Syrian Authorities such a serious matter. Syrian efforts to interfere in the selection of experts by the OPCW, thus preventing the deployment, are unacceptable.

 

This Council must maintain a strong and clear message upholding the requirements it set out in Resolution 2118.  Syria must cooperate fully with the OPCW, accept personnel designated by the OPCW in the course of their work, and provide “immediate and unfettered access.”  Syria cannot pick and choose which of its legal obligations it is willing to accept.

 

Equally, the OPCW must have our full backing in its professional and impartial work to resolve the many outstanding issues.

 

We welcome the eighth round of inspections of the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre and await the results.  We note that Syria is yet to adequately explain the Schedule 2 chemical found at the Barzah site in November 2018.

 

We also welcome ongoing work by the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) and its inspections in December at four sites connected with possible chemical weapons use in 2017. We await the results of this work in due course. The Investigation and Identification Team’s work will also continue in 2022.

 

It is only through Syria’s serious and meaningful cooperation with the OPCW that we can be assured that its entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared and verifiably destroyed, in line with its obligations under the CWC and Resolution 2118. 

 

We support, therefore, the proposed bilateral meeting between DG Arias and Minister Mekdad. It is important that this is a frank and meaningful discussion aimed at resolving the impasse, and ensuring that real progress can be made on all the outstanding issues. We hope to see this take place as soon as possible.

 

Ireland will continue to support all efforts by the OPCW and the Security Council to resolve outstanding issues on this file.

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