Syria Destroys Its Chemical Weapons
Syria has disabled all of its chemical weapons facilities, making sure they can no longer produce the banned armament, in accordance with a deal made with Russia and the US.
This was the second stage of the operation and needed to completed by November 1, a deadline which inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, known as the OPCW, announced to have been met the day before. The OPCW has said that President Bashar Assad’s government has met all of the deadlines set to them so far in exchange for the US not involving themselves in Syria’s civil war with military intervention.
Alleged chemical warfare in areas where civilians live led to OPCW inspectors coming to Syria to check it out. The allegations were denied by the president, who suspected that insurgents had something to do with it, but the OPCW did discover chemical weapons in several facilities across Syria. In an agreement negotiated by Russia and the US, Damascus – the capital city of Syria – agreed to destroy all of its chemical weapons.
The operation consists of three phases, two of which have now been completed. The first involved Syria fully declaring their chemical weapons capabilities and was met in September. The second obligation that has just been fulfilled meant disabling its manufacturing capabilities. The third and final stage is the actual destruction of any chemical weapons and other banned materials.
Head of field operations for the OPCW Jerry Smith said that his team had personally overseen the shutdown of chemical weapons production sites.“They are not now in a position to conduct any further production or mixing of chemical weapons,” he said.
Now that the equipment can no longer be used, Syria needs to complete the final stage of the operation by destroying all of its 1,290 tonnes of chemical weapons by June 30 next year. Thomas Countryman, a US state department official, said that the targets may be ambitious, but they are attainable: “I am increasingly confident that we will be able to complete the task.”
The OPCW actually won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year, but the team had been too busy in Syria working to celebrate this accomplishment, particularly with the job being in the middle of a warzone.
Syria has met all of its commitments and deadlines so far, and the latest success was a tremendous step forward towards eradicating the country’s chemical armoury. Syria only has to keep its word by meeting next year’s deadline, and focus can resume on resolving the civil war.
Faisal Mekdad, Deputy Foreign Minister for Syria, said that he hopes that anyone who harboured negativity towards Syria would change their minds after Syria’s cooperation led to the completion of this second phase. He believes “Syria was, is, and will be always a constructive partner”, so let’s hope he is proven right.