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UN official: Unsure chemical weapons completely eliminated from Syria

Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, speaks at a UN Security Council meeting on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on 21 September 2017 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. [DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images]
Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, speaks at a UN Security Council meeting on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on 21 September 2017 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. [DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images]

The United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu said the international community cannot yet have full confidence that Syria's chemical weapons programme has been eliminated.

Speaking before the United Nations Security Council via video‑teleconference on Tuesday, Nakamitsu said outstanding issues related to Syria's initial declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile and programme still cannot be considered "accurate and complete", explaining that the assessment by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is susceptible to "identified gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies that remain unresolved".

The UN official said 19 issues remain outstanding with relations to Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, including a chemical weapons production facility declared as never having been used for production.

"However, a review of all materials gathered by the Declaration Assessment Team since 2014, including samples, indicates that production and/or weaponization of chemical warfare nerve agents took place there," she added, noting that Syria also has yet to respond to a request by the Technical Secretariat to declare the exact types and quantities of chemical agents produced and/or weaponised at the site.

She stressed on the importance of holding to account all those who have used chemical weapons.

IN its 2017 report, Human Rights Watch said: "New evidence supports the conclusion that Syrian government forces have used nerve agents on at least four occasions in recent months: on April 4, 2017, in a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 90 people, and on three other occasions in December 2016 and March 2017."

READ: What direction will Biden take on Syria?

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