29 Sep 2013

Chemical weapons inspectors being despatched to Syria

5:00 pm on 29 September 2013

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is despatching inspectors to start preparing for the destruction of Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.

The BBC reports the OPCW has set an accelerated programme for achieving the elimination of the weapons by mid-2014.

In a statement issued in The Hague, the agency said inspections in Syria will commence from 1 October.

OPCW director general Ahmet Uzumcu said ''ambitious milestones'' for the destruction of the weapons will be set by the executive council by 15 November.

The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a binding resolution instructing Syria to abandon its weapons stockpile and give chemical weapons experts unfettered access to them.

Michael Luhan of the OPCW says that with international support, the plan should be carried out by the middle of next year.

"Our considered assessment is that with full international support for this mission and with the full cooperation of the Syrian government authorities, that this mission is doable and it's doable within the timeframe that has been laid down by the Geneva framework agreement."

But a BBC correspondent says the OPCW is a small organisation that has never undertaken a job of this size or complexity. It will need a lot of help and is expected to ask for urgent funding and additional personnel.