Statement by Ambassador Flynn at UNSC Briefing on Syria - Chemical Weapons
Statement04 August 2021
Mr. President, I join others in congratulating France and congratulate you on India’s Presidency this month. I would like to thank Mr Markram for his briefing today.
Mr. President, The use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, at any time is abhorrent and unacceptable. The OPCW plays an essential role, as the impartial and technical body mandated by the international community to address these weapons.
The absence of progress by Syria in addressing the serious and growing list of issues under its initial declaration remains a matter of serious concern. Syria’s lack of meaningful cooperation with the OPCW, as set out most recently in the Director General’s 23rd of July report, is a significant concern.
The fundamental question is whether Syria is willing to cooperate meaningfully with the OPCW to resolve these issues, and to provide assurance they have met their commitments under the CWC.
The issues are deeply troubling, and the significant gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies in Syria’s explanations cannot simply be dismissed. Syria’s failure to issue visas in a timely manner and grant full access to sites and documents related to its chemical weapons programme hampers the OPCW’s work to investigate these issues.
As others have pointed to, the destruction of chlorine cylinders from the incident at Douma is disturbing, and symptomatic of the difficulties the OPCW faces in Syria. The fact the cylinders had been moved to a new location without informing the OPCW is troubling.
The failure to meaningfully address these issues is all the more important given that eight instances of chemical weapons use in Syria have been attributed to the Syrian authorities by the UN and by the OPCW.
We welcome and support the initiative by DG Arias to reach out to Syrian Foreign Minister Mekdad, about a possible meeting to find a way to break the impasse. We would encourage Syria to engage seriously with DG Arias’ offer, and hope that this can contribute to much needed progress.
Syria has stated it is willing to cooperate fully. Now is the time to back this up with meaningful action.
The OPCW’s strong professionalism, impartiality and integrity in handling the Syrian file has been clear throughout the process.
Mr. President, Syria must fulfil its legal obligations under the CWC and Resolution 2118. It must cooperate fully with the OPCW. It must resolve the serious issues with its declaration. Finally, it must ensure that its entire stocks of chemical weapons are declared and verifiably destroyed.
Thank you, Mr. President.