Eliminating Chemical Weapons in Syria

Since the horrific use of chemical weapons on August 21, 2013, the world has come together in a historic way to ensure that these weapons can never again be used against the Syrian people. This is a good start, but we are at the beginning of a long and complex process. Syria’s obligations are clear and it will need to fully comply with the requirements established by the international community. Working with international partners, we have accomplished the following milestones:

The international community has established a legal framework to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

On September 27, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council adopted a consensus decision on Syrian chemical weapons and the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2118. Together, these actions set out an ambitious program and imposed legally binding obligations on Syria to cooperate fully in the elimination of its chemical weapons program.

The OPCW has received initial information from Syria about its chemical weapons program.

On September 10, Syria publicly admitted for the first time that it possesses a chemical weapons arsenal and on September 14, it joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, agreeing to eliminate those weapons for all time. The OPCW announced on September 21 that it received an initial disclosure from Syria with information on its chemical weapons and related sites. The OPCW received additional information from Syria the week of September 30.

Inspection teams have been set up to begin verification and monitoring.

On October 1 and 2, nearly three dozen OPCW and UN personnel arrived in Damascus, set up an operational support base, and began discussing with the Government of Syria an approach to verify and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

Inspectors are already at work verifying Syria’s disclosures and destroying Syrian chemical weapons.

On October 6 and 7, the OPCW team began inspections and oversaw initial Syrian efforts to destroy parts of its chemical weapons program, including missile warheads, aerial bombs, and mixing and filling equipment.

The UN and the OPCW establish the Joint Mission

On October 16, the UN and the OPCW established a Joint Mission, in order to achieve the timely elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program in the safest and most secure manner possible, and Ms. Sigrid Kaag, was appointed as the Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission.

United States contributes nearly $6 million to support the efforts of the OPCW and UN

As of October 22, the United States delivered ten armored vehicles to support the efforts of the OPCW – UN Joint Mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program. With these vehicles, U.S. assistance to support the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons program totals $6 million. Our contributions to the OPCW and UN include direct financial assistance, as well as training, equipment, protective gear, logistical support, and medication for the inspection team.

Syria submits official chemical weapons data to the OPCW

On October 25, Syria submitted its official chemical weapons data to the OPCW, in line with the deadline set by the OPCW Executive Council in its September 27 Decision. The document from Syria includes a general plan of destruction for consideration by the OPCW Executive Council.

OPCW Reports Progress in Eliminating the Syrian Chemical Weapons Program
On October 31, the OPCW announced that it has verified that Syria’s declared critical production, mixing, and filling equipment has been rendered inoperable. Now we must make sure the job is finished and that these banned weapons are removed and destroyed. This is meaningful progress which many believed would be impossible. The progress must continue.

OPCW Executive Council Adopts Consensus Decision on Destruction Milestones

On November 15th, the OPCW Executive Council adopted, by consensus, a decision on the milestones for destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons program, as laid out in the September 27 OPCW Executive Council Decision. The full text of the decision can be found by clicking here.