UK Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on Syria chemical weapons

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Syria’s chemical weapons programme remains a threat to international peace and security

11 July 2023

I start by joining others in thanking USG Ebo for his briefing.

Ten years after Syria’s accession to the chemical weapons convention, UNSCR 2118, and 117 monthly reports by the Director General of the OPCW, it remains impossible to verify the complete destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

This is not due to lack of effort on the part of the Technical Secretariat, whose efforts and perseverance we commend, but it is entirely the responsibility of the Syrian authorities.

Syria has consistently denied retaining any chemical weapons stockpiles, despite clear evidence to the contrary. The whereabouts of several hundred tonnes of chemical warfare agents remain unclear and their destruction still cannot be verified.

Until States Parties and the Technical Secretariat are satisfied that Syria is making meaningful progress to address the 20 outstanding issues with its declaration, we all need to continue to put pressure on Syria to abide by all its obligations. This includes the requirement for Syria to fully cooperate with the Technical Secretariat in good faith.

We should hold Syria accountable for its actions. All States must encourage Syria to abide by its obligations under the Convention. Until outstanding issues are resolved, we cannot rule out Syria retaining some sort of chemical weapons programme.

Given its repeated flagrant use of chemical weapons, we cannot exclude the possibility that the Assad regime will use chemical weapons again.

We cannot simply let this go: Syria’s chemical weapons programme remains a threat to international peace and security. It matters to all of us.

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