Chemical Weapons Watchdog Verifies Previously Inaccessible Syrian Site

by
Reuters
Global chemical weapons watchdog inspectors using footage from sealed cameras have verified one of two remaining sites declared by Syria, the organisation said on Thursday.

A Syrian opposition flag is seen on a wall in the town of Safira November 2, 2013.

* Syrian delegation in The Hague for destruction talks

* Assumption is chemicals will be shipped abroad

* Doubts raised Syria declared its entire stockpile to OPCW

Global chemical weapons watchdog inspectors using footage from sealed cameras have verified one of two remaining sites declared by Syria, the organisation said on Thursday.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, had already verified 21 out of 23 sites declared to the agency last month.

Two sites were considered too dangerous to reach.

"The additional site inspected is in the region of Aleppo and was one of the two sites that could not be visited earlier due to safety and security reasons," the OPCW said in a statement.

"As per the declaration by Syria, the site was confirmed as dismantled and long abandoned with the building showing extensive battle damage," it said.

Syria has proposed destroying its stockpile at a location outside the country because of ongoing fighting. More than 100,000 people have been killed and some 2.2 million people have fled during the 2-1/2-year civil war.

DESTRUCTION TALKS

The progress comes after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, suggested on Tuesday that the government of President Bashar al-Assad may not have disclosed its entire chemical weapons programme to the OPCW.

Under a Russian-American brokered deal, Syria agreed to destroy its entire stockpile of toxic nerve agents and munitions by mid-2014.

Syria declared 30 production, filling and storage facilities, eight mobile filling units and three chemical weapons-related facilities. They contained about 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons, mostly in the form of raw precursors, and 1,230 unfilled munitions.

A delegation of Syrian officials on Wednesday began talks in The Hague, where the OPCW is headquartered, to work out a detailed destruction plan by Nov. 15.

The discussions are based on the assumption the weapons will be shipped overseas for destruction, a source involved in the talks told Reuters on Thursday.

Syria cannot afford to pay for the expensive destruction process itself and has appealed for significant foreign financing and logistical support.