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Syria chemical weapons disarmament `dangerous`: Ban Ki-moon

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 16:04

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Damascus: The international chemical weapons inspectors, who are in Syria for destruction of the deadly 1000-ton stockpile of poisonous agents, face an unprecedented danger as the arms are "dangerous to handle and destroy”, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon wrote in a report to the UNSC.

According to the media reports, the UN chief in his 11-page report to the UNSC, has also recommended the formation of a team of 100 specialists from the UN and the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) who will be tasked with supervising the chemical arms destruction which has a deadline of mid-2014.

Presently, a small team of international experts comprising 19 OPCW members and 16 UN members, is in Syria and has begun the process of destroying the chemical weapons production facilities.

The first phase of the chemical disarmament process involves destroying capability of Syria to produce chemical weapons by November 1.

The second phase will deal with demolishing chemical weapons and mixing equipment and in the third phase, the inspectors will ensure a complete eradication of the chemical agents, the UN Secretary General wrote in the report that has been accessed by media agencies.

Syria`s chemical weapons destruction program by mid-2014 will require "an operation the likes of which, quite simply, have never been tried before," Ban Ki-moon wrote in the report.

The UN chief’s report comes after the UNSC passed a resolution on Syria chemical destruction on September 27 and instructed the UN to report within 10 days how would it play a role in the herculean task.

Stating his strategy on the joint mission to destroy Syria chemical weapons, the UN Chief proposed that the 100 experts from the UN and OCPW will be in Syria for a year. The UN members will be responsible for supervising security, logistics, communications and coordination with the Syrian government whereas the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will tackle the technical aspects of the process, including verification and inspections.

Underscoring the unprecedented danger that was involved in the process, Mr. Ban said, "the joint mission will establish a `light footprint` in Syria”.

Other than being based in Damscus, Ban also proposed establishing an additional UN base of the chemical destruction team in Cyprus which will assist with operations, AND improve its medical-response capabilities, and strengthen security.

"The joint mission will be expected to support, monitor and verify the destruction of a complex chemical weapons program involving multiple sites spread over a country engulfed in violent conflict, which includes approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, agents and precursors that are dangerous to handle, dangerous to transport and dangerous to destroy," Ban said.

The mission to destroy Syria chemical stockpile is being implemented according to a joint US-Russia plan which proposed that Syria must allow the international experts to access all the storage and production sites of chemical weapons and comply with the plan so that by mid-2014, the destruction process ends successfully.

First Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 13:37

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