Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Situation in the Middle East

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May 8, 2023

Thank you, Madam President. And I thank High Representative Nakamitsu for her briefing this morning, and for the steadfast work of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on this important issue. As we have heard from the High Representative, and seen in numerous reports of the OPCW, the Assad regime has not met its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and Security Council Resolution 2118.

Specifically, the regime has yet to offer a fulsome accounting of its chemical weapons and is not cooperating fully, nor being transparent with the OPCW. Fulsome consultations with the OPCW’s Declaration Assessment Team remain necessary because Syria will not fully disclose and verifiably eliminate its chemical weapons program.

It has only been through the diligent and thorough efforts of the Declaration Assessment Team that the Assad regime has been forced to reveal – on seven separate occasions – more and more of its chemical weapons program. These revelations filled in glaring gaps in Syria’s still woefully inaccurate declaration. But the regime also continues to thwart the Declaration Assessment Team; refusing to allow the lead technical expert to deploy to its territory and preventing full consultations from taking place for more than two years now. The Declaration Assessment Team is currently able to carry out only limited in-country activities, decidedly undermining the effectiveness of its visits.

Russia’s shameless shielding of Syria’s defiant behavior enables the Assad regime and leaves the Syrian people facing the prospect of further chemical weapons attacks. Rather than calling for full implementation of Resolution 2118, which Russia originally supported, Russia has chosen to attack the credibility and professionalism of the OPCW – undermining the UN Charter in the process.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the Assad regime for its repeated use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, including in Douma on April 7, 2018, as described in the report of the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team released in January.

We commend the IIT for its professionalism, its rigor, and its thoroughness in its investigation and preparation of this report. We expect that the IIT’s future reports will identify the perpetrators of other chemical weapons attacks that occurred in Syria. We once again call on the Syrian regime to amend its Chemical Weapons Convention declarations to make them accurate and complete, required by the CWC, and to provide immediate an unfettered access to the OPCW staff as required under UN Security Council Resolution 2118.

Thank you.

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