Chemical weapon experts make "encouraging
initial progress" in Syria: statement
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations said in a joint statement Thursday that their joint team of experts has made "encouraging initial progress" during their first day of mission in Syria.
"The joint OPCW-UN team mandated to assist Syria with the elimination of its chemical weapons program has made encouraging initial progress, following the first working day of meetings with the Syrian authorities," according to a joint OPCW-UN statement obtained by Xinhua.
The team arrived in Syria on Tuesday to embark on a complex mission of finding and dismantling an estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal in Syria.
The United Nations Security Council has ordered the OPCW to help Syria destroy its chemical weapons by mid-2014. It gives inspectors about nine months to complete their task. In a week, the OPCW mission will be expanded as more investigators arrive.
"Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered," the statement said.
The OPCW team hopes to begin onsite inspections and the initial disabling of equipment within the next week, the statement said, noting however that the onsite inspection depends on the outcome of the technical groups established with the participation of Syrian experts.
"These groups are working on three areas which are key to the mission's success: verification of the information handed over by the Syrian government; the safety and security of the inspection teams; and practical arrangements for implementing the plan, under which Syria's chemical weapons material and equipment are to be eliminated by mid-2014," according to the statement.