Damascus, Oct 9 (): Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Monday specialists drawn from the United Nations and the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) that polices the global ban on chemical weapons will be sent to Syria over the next eight months to help disassemble and destroy its roughly 1,000-ton arsenal, an extremely dangerous task that has never been tried.
In a letter to the Security Council, Ban recommended that approximately 100 UN and OPCW staff make up the mission.
The first phase of the chemical disarmament process includes destroying capability of Syria to produce chemical weapons by November 1.
The second phase will deal with thrashing chemical weapons and mixing equipment and in the third phase, the inspectors will confirm a complete eradication of the chemical agents, the UN Secretary General wrote in the report that has been accessed by media agencies.
Syria’s chemical weapons destruction program by mid-2014 will require “an operation the likes of which, quite simply, have never been tried before,” Ban Ki-moon wrote in the report.
Ban said the staging ground would help increase security for the workers and the specific equipment needed to help monitor and counteract Syria’s vast quantities of deadly chemical compounds. He added, it is “highly probable” that he will ask other member states, which he did not identify, to help the joint mission complete its work.
OPCW is tasked with guaranteeing speedy elimination of chemical weapons of Syria under the Russian-American agreement that prevented US-led strikes in the wake of the August 21 chemical weapons attacks on Moadamyeh and East Ghouta, Damascus. Separately, it helped staff the UN inspection team that investigated the attack and other alleged uses of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
A group of experts who were among the first into Syria last week has already returned to the OPCW headquarters to report on their talks with officials from President Bashar Assad’s regime in Damascus.