According to a press release from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the joint OPCW-UN mission to render Syrian chemical weapons production sites inoperable was highly successful.
“The government of the Syrian Arab Republic has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable,” the statement said. “By doing so, Syria has met the deadline set by the OPCW Executive Council [on Sept. 27] to ‘complete as soon as possible and in any case not later than 1 November 2013, the destruction of chemical weapons production and mixing/filling equipment.'”
The Nobel-Prize-winning group sent inspectors to 21 of 23 sites across Syria. The two remaining locations were unreachable because they were too dangerous, but the equipment from those sites was moved to others. The final two sites were declared abandoned by Syria’s government.
Reuters spoke with an independent chemical weapons analyist, Ralf Trapp, who said on the subject of the OPCW’s success that “This was a major milestone in the effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program.”
The OPCW’s Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, welcomed the return of his eight weapons inspectors to the Hague. Those inspectors had been verifying and examining the fallout from the Syrian chemical weapons crisis since Oct. 1.
“I thank you and all of our colleagues from the Joint OPCW-UN Mission who remain in Syria for your outstanding service,” Üzümcü said upon the inspectors’ return. ““I salute the fortitude and courage you’ve all demonstrated in fulfilling the most challenging mission ever undertaken by this Organisation.”
The OPCW plans no further inspection activities because of the organization’s satisfaction with the progress made in destroying the production equipment. However, the next big deadline is Nov. 15, by which time the UN Executive Council must approve a detailed plan of destruction from Syria’s government regarding how it plans to render its deadly nerve agents inert.[Image via the OPCW web site]