Special Coordinator speaks to the press following her first briefing to the UN Security Council

20 Mar 2014

Special Coordinator speaks to the press following her first briefing to the UN Security Council

5 November 2013 - Security Council media stakeout

Speaking to the press at UN Headquarters in New York following her first briefing to the Security Council, Sigrid Kaag, Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons programme, said she had reported on the Mission's first full month of work.

She told the Council of the progress to date "under difficult circumstances," and added that the Syrian authorities were cooperating constructively with the Mission. Ms. Kaag also stressed the need for future international assistance subject to the approval of the destruction plan presented by the Syrian Government.

"We had a very good discussion with Council members; questions were raised concerning staff safety and security and the possible anticipated role of the Joint Mission, obviously continued verification monitoring but also possibly support for implementation of the final phases of the overall plan," she said

She said that Council members had also asked questions about the two sites the Joint Mission had been unable to visit. Those sites had been declared "abandoned" in the Syrian Government's initial declaration to the OPCW. She reiterated the agency's intent to have inspectors visit those sites in the future "subject to security conditions in country."

Asked by a reporter if she thought Syria had the capability to destroy the weapons or if that task should be handled by another country, Ms. Kaag said that a team of officials from the UN, the OPCW and Damascus was looking at that issue this week in The Hague and a decision would be made by mid-November, when the OPCW Executive Council is set to meet on next steps.

To a question on funding, she said that the UN voluntary fund set up to support the Joint Mission had received some $2 million, while the OPCW mechanism had roughly $10 million, which would carry the Joint Mission through the end of the year. She hoped that after the OPCW Executive Council meeting, a financial plan that covers the overall planned work of the Mission could be devised.

Based on the UN News Centre story