QUESTION: The DG of the OPCW said inspectors are to visit 20 sites that the Syrians declared, but the U.S. has said that there are at least 45 sites – have Syrians not declared all of their sites, or are we counting differently? If we are only visiting fewer than half of the sites, how can we characterize this as an “encouraging” start?
ANSWER: According to the September 27 OPCW Executive Council Decision, the OPCW will visit all declared sites within 30 days of adoption of the Executive Council Decision (October 27). The same decision and UN Security Council Resolution 2118 require that Syria permit the OPCW unfettered, immediate access to all other sites of interest. Syria's initial declaration of its chemical weapons holdings and facilities required under Article III of the Chemical Weapons Convention is due to the OPCW on October 27, pursuant to the OPCW Executive Council Decision.
We will continue to assess the completeness and accuracy of Syria's disclosures to the OPCW. As the Syrian disclosure to the OPCW has not been released to the public by the OPCW, we will not at this time discuss its details or our assessment of it.
The fact that just a month ago the Syrian regime did not even acknowledge it had chemical weapons, and now inspectors are not only on the ground but they are overseeing the initial stages of destruction, is a step forward. However, there is more work to be done, and the international community will be paying close attention to whether the Syrian regime is abiding by all of its obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 2118 and the OPCW Executive Council Decision. It's critical that Syria's declaration of its chemical weapons holdings and facilities be complete.