OPCW finishes first round of Syrian verification activities

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons announced on Monday that its inspectors in the OPCW-U.N. Joint Mission in Syria completed verification activities at 21 of the 23 declared chemical weapons-related sites.

The two remaining sites were not visited because of security concerns. The joint mission will continue efforts to make sure conditions are met for safe access to the remaining sites.

Syria submitted a formal declaration of its chemical weapons program last week, together with a plan of destruction, for consideration by the OPCW Executive Council.

Under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, new States Parties to the convention must also submit a declaration covering facilities and activities that are not prohibited under the convention but can be subjected to routine verification measures. The additional facilities are routinely verified as a confidence building measure and to demonstrate the peaceful intent of commercial activities. Syria also submitted such a declaration on October 24.

The declarations from Syria will provide the basis on which plans are developed for a systemic, complete and verified destruction of the country's declared chemical weapons and production facilities.

Ahmet uzumcu, the director-general of the OPCW, recently submitted the first monthly report on the work of the joint mission to the U.N. Security Council.