Syrian Government Submits Chemical Stockpiles List to OPCW
Meeting the Saturday deadline set for Damascus under the recent U.S.-Russia deal, the Syrian government has now handed over a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the group confirmed in a tweet.
"We have to go through it in detail and plan how to conduct the on-the-ground inspection mission, to verify the accuracy of the declaration and put seals on all the materials to make sure they are secure," said OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan.
Under the deal brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime had until Saturday to hand over a "comprehensive" listing of its stockpile (believed to contain roughly 1,000 tonnes of toxins) , and until the middle of 2014 to get rid of it all. Normally, the time-frame for declaring chemical arms would be 60 days — but in order to avoid a U.S.-led military strike on Damascus, the Syrian government agreed to just a week.
The deal is hoping to have inspectors in Syria by November, who'll assess the situation and supervise the dismantling of various equipment. Members of the organization were meant to vote on a definite timeline next week, but have postponed their Sunday meeting indefinitely, without citing a reason.
"The meeting of the Executive Council of the OPCW in regard to Syria, scheduled for Sunday has been postponed," the group said. "We will announce the new date and time in this space as soon as possible."
Reports are suggesting that negotiations are still snagging over the issue of noncompliance — that is, the repercussions, should Syria decide to violate the terms of the agreement. There are even concerns over how those violations would actually be defined and determined (or, more specifically, who would get to define and determine them — whether the OPCW, or the U.N Security Council.) But once the OPCW — which implements the Chemical Weapons Convention — does agree to a firm plan, the United Nations Security Council will work on a resolution to endorse it.