The UN Security Council has authorised backing up the operation of dismantling of Syria’s chemical-weapons stockpile with 100 extra international experts.
The plan, proposed by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has suggested maintaining a “light footprint”, deploying only the personnel needed at any given time and operating out of Cyprus and Damascus.
In a letter outlining his plan sent to the Security Council earlier in the week, Ban said he would appoint a “special coordinator” to oversee the joint operation and liaise with the UN, the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Syrian government.
“I am very pleased that the Security Council has moved so quickly on my recommendation for a joint mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations,” Ban said in Brunei on Friday. “This is a sign of the international community’s commitment to eliminate chemical weapons.”
Ban’s plan proposes that the dismantling would take place in three phases – an initial phase, which has begun; a second phase involving the destruction of chemical weapons and mixing equipment; and a third phase in which the total elimination of the programme will be verified and monitored.
Chemical weapons experts believe Syria has roughly 1,000 tonnes of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas, some of it stored as bulk raw chemicals and some of it already loaded onto missiles, warheads or rockets.
Under a Russian-US deal brokered last month, Syria must render useless all production facilities and weapons filling equipment by November.
The country’s entire chemical-weapons programme must be destroyed by June 30, 2014.
Source: Aljazeera, Oct. 12, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/10/un-boost-syria-chemical-weapons-team-2013101282117970475.html