OPCW reacts to recent Syria reports

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons expressed concern this week about the potential existence of chemical weapons in Syria.

The OPCW said it will not speculate on whether or not chemical weapons are present in Syria because the organization has not conducted physical investigations and inspections. Recent media reports said that Syria possesses major stockpiles of chemical weapons, such as lethal nerve agents.

Because Syria is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, the country is not legally committed to the prohibitions by the convention against stockpiling, producing, developing or using chemical weapons. As a result, the OPCW has no legal mandate to conduct chemical weapons inspections in the country.

Syria, however, is a party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which bans the use of bacteriological and chemical means of warfare. Syria formally renounced first and retaliatory use of biological or chemical weapons against any state. Syria ratified the protocol in 1968.

The OPCW has a working relationship with the United Nations and, if requested to do so, the OPCW has a mandate in the convention for close cooperation with the UN. The organization could put its resources at the disposal of the UN to conduct an investigation of alleged chemical weapon use in a state that is not party to the CWC.

The OPCW is available at any time to provide assistance for Syria to join the convention.