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Chemical weapons are not a historic problem in Syria, they are a present reality: UK statement at the UN Security Council

The United Kingdom would like nothing more than for this Council not to hold any more meetings on chemical weapons. As this would mean that chemical weapons were no longer being produced, stored or used anywhere in the world, and the perpetrators of chemical weapons’ attacks had been held to account.

Sadly, that is not the case. Chemical weapons are not a historic problem in Syria. They are a present reality.  

The Assad regime continues to possess chemical weapons today. Thousands of munitions and hundreds of tonnes of chemical agent remain unaccounted for. Analysis of samples collected at two sites in April 2023 indicates further undeclared processing and production activity in Syria.

We are gravely concerned by these developments and we join your call, High Representative, for greater cooperation by Syria with the OPCW technical secretariat. 

The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism and the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team found that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, including sarin and chlorine, against its own people nine times after acceding to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013.

Syria has failed to make a complete and accurate declaration of its stockpiles, despite the best and repeated efforts of the OPCW secretariat. Nor has Syria met its obligations under this Council’s resolution 2118. Independent international investigations have also now attributed a total of four uses of chemical weapons to Daesh.

President, failure to hold Syria to account would undermine the international non-proliferation architecture.

The UK will continue to pursue accountability for the use of chemical weapons by state and non-state actors. We fully support the work of the OPCW’s Syria missions, and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria, which assists in the investigation and prosecution of international crimes committed in Syria.

We applaud OPCW’s impartial and patient work. Until Syria fully declares and destroys its chemical weapons, this Council should remain focused on this ongoing threat to international peace and security.

Thank you, President.

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