The global chemical weapons watchdog will discuss on Friday a disarmament plan for Syria that calls for inspections of the civil war-torn country’s chemical arsenal to begin by Tuesday.
The draft decision of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) obtained by The Associated Press also authorises the body to inspect “any other site identified by a State Party as having been involved in the Syrian chemical weapons programme, unless deemed unwarranted by the Director-General.”
That goes beyond usual practice as the organisation has only previously inspected sites that have been declared by member states.
The draft, being discussed by the OPCW’s executive council on Friday night, calls for the organisation’s secretariat to, “as soon as possible and no later than 1 October 2013, initiate inspections in the Syrian Arab Republic.” And it lays out the target of destroying all of Syria’s chemical weapons and equipment by “the first half of 2014.”
The draft comes a day after the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council agreed on the text of a resolution that demands that Syria abandon its chemical stockpile and allow unfettered access to chemical weapons experts. But if Syria fails to comply, the council will need to adopt a second resolution to impose measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military and nonmilitary actions to promote peace and security.
The combined OPCW and Security Council action represents a significant breakthrough and rare unity between Russia, which has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, and the United States.
If the OPCW executive council approves the draft decision later, the Security Council could vote late Friday at the earliest on its resolution.
The OPCW plan says the organization should consider reporting any delay or lack of cooperation by Syria to the Security Council. The draft decision also sets out a clear and ambitious timeline for the verification and destruction of Syria’s weapons and production facilities.
According to the plan, Damascus must, within a week of the decision being approved, provide more detailed information on its arsenal including the name and quantity of all chemicals in its weapons stockpile including precursor chemicals; the type of and quantity of munitions that can be used to fire chemical weapons; the location of the weapons, storage facilities and production facilities. And the destruction of all chemical weapons production and mixing or filling equipment has to be completed no later than November 1, 2013.
The decision calls on Syria to “cooperate fully with all aspects of the implementation of this decision, including by providing the OPCW personnel with the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in the Syrian Arab Republic.”