International inspectors have worked with unprecedented speed to accomplish the first milestone in eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons and reducing the possibility that they will ever be used again. Now we must make sure the job is finished and that every one of these banned weapons is removed and destroyed. This is meaningful progress which many believed would be impossible. The progress must continue.
We must also be crystal clear that eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons is not a substitute for ending the civil war nor does it end the humanitarian catastrophe that continues to unfold. If weapons inspectors can carry out their critical mission, then I refuse to believe we can’t find a way for aid workers to carry out their equally critical mission delivering food and medical treatment to Syrians in need.
But where chemical weapons are concerned, we cannot lose sight of what has been accomplished thus far and what continues every day. Backed by the full weight of the United Nations and the international community, OPCW inspectors have responded to an unspeakable atrocity with unparalleled action. Nothing less would be acceptable after events that shocked the conscience of the world and left 1,400 innocent Syrians dead. Under the U.S.-Russia Framework, Syria must provide all UN and OPCW personnel unfettered access to any and all sites in order to fulfill their critical mission of verifying the full extent, and the eventual elimination, of Syria’s chemical weapons program. Syria’s obligations are clear, and it will need to fully comply with the requirements established by UNSCR 2118 and the OPCW Executive Council’s decision. To borrow from President Reagan’s maxim, where the Assad regime is concerned, there is no ‘trust,’ only ‘verify.’
To date, the United States has provided approximately $6 million in financial and in-kind assistance to support the efforts of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons program, including armored vehicles, training, protective equipment, and medical CW countermeasures for the inspection team. We intend to continue to provide available assistance to help the Joint Mission fulfill its mandate.
For more information, please see http://www.state.gov/t/syriacw/index.htm