Syria is committed to its pledges

Syria is committed to its pledges as to rid itself of chemicals, reiterated Walid Al-Moallem, Syria's deputy premier and minister of foreign affairs and expatriates.

During Minister Al-Moallem meeting here Thursday with Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Mission, Minister Al-Moallem underlined that the security conditions in Syria should be considered and the process of getting rid from chemicals shouldn't be politicized.

Al-Moallem and Kaag discussed the progress achieved in  OPCW's program in Syria and means of continued bilateral cooperation.

Kaag highly appreciated the standing cooperation and achieved progress in executing the program of clearing chemicals from Syria.

On February 8th, the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry called for stopping politicizing the Chemical file by countries which turned  blind eyes to Syria's commitment to its obligations under the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Convention (PCWC) and to the current circumstances caused by the international and regional-backed terrorist war on the country.

The ministry asserted that the armed terrorist groups targeted the sites of Chemical weapons and the second cargo transfer on January 27, noting that many states refused to offer security equipment to Syria.

"Despite its humble capabilities, Syria bought some devices from nearby countries to implement measures related to transferring chemicals," the ministry said.

H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad stated in an interview with the Italian Rainnews that we joined the international agreement for preventing the use and acquirement of chemical weapons before that resolution came to light. The main part of the Russian initiative is based on our will to do so. So, it's not the resolution. Actually, it's about our will. Of course, we have the will, because in 2003 we had a proposal in the United Nations Security Council, to get rid of those weapons in the Middle East, to have a chemical weapons free zone in the Middle East. So, of course we have to comply; this is our history: to comply with every treaty we sign.

With this in mind, came the announcement in 2013 by the Joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN Mission that the government of the Syrian Arab Republic has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable.

By doing so, Syria has met the deadline set by the OPCW Executive Council to “complete as soon as possible and in any case not later than 1 November 2013, the destruction of chemical weapons production and mixing/filling equipment.” 

The Joint OPCW-UN Mission, according to the 2013 announcement, has inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons programme items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected.

The Joint Mission is now satisfied that it has verified - and seen destroyed - all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment. Given the progress made in the Joint OPCW-UN Mission in meeting the requirements of the first phase of activities, no further inspection activities are currently planned. The next milestone for the mission will be 15 November, by which time the Executive Council must approve a detailed plan of destruction submitted by Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile.

Accordingly, Syria's commitment to what it pledges, praised and given credit to even by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, is indeed remarkable. Of no less remarkable is the Syrian continued commitment to fighting al-Qaeda affiliates as well as to dialogue among the Syrians as the way out from the ongoing crisis.

Syria, which since 1997 stopped the production of chemical weapons, has indeed taken its decision regarding chemical weapons prior to its announcement. Syria doesn't need any more chemical weapons and thus it presented a proposal in 2003 to the UN Security Council to rid the Middle East from mass destruction weapons; Syria's accession to Chemical Weapons Convention has nothing to do with US threats and sword-rattling.

Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim

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