31 January 2014 - In a meeting of the OPCW Executive Council yesterday, Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü briefed the Council on efforts underway to expedite the process of removing Syrian chemicals that have been identified for destruction outside Syrian territory. “While the two shipments (of chemicals) this month represent a start, the need for the process to pick up pace is obvious,” the Director-General told the Council. “Ways and means must be found to establish continuity and predictability of shipments to assure States Parties that the programme, while delayed, is not deferred.”
The Director-General briefed the Council about his exchanges with senior Syrian officials in which he has underlined the need for a timeframe to be provided by the Syrian Government for the removal of chemicals. The Syrian government, while expressing concerns about the current security situation, has reiterated its commitment to completing the programme and assured that it is working on a schedule for the transport and removal of the chemicals. The Director-General and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke recently and agreed that the removal process must be accelerated.
Since the commencement of the mission in Syria, the Council has met regularly to oversee the implementation of its decisions pertaining to the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme. Yesterday’s meeting took stock of the work of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission and the latest developments as reported by the Director-General in his recent monthly report and oral update. There was a shared sentiment in favour of more rapid progress given that the multinational effort in support of the removal and destruction programme has committed significant resources. The Council decided to reconvene on 21 February to continue its deliberations.