UNITED NATIONS, October 8 (RIA Novosti) – The UN chief has suggested that a joint mission of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), tasked with eliminating chemical weapons, be established in Syria.
“I propose the establishment of an OPCW-UN Joint Mission to eliminate the chemical weapons program of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Ban Ki-moon wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council obtained by RIA Novosti.
The letter also said the mission, which would be led by a “civilian Special Coordinator” to be appointed by Ban, would “establish a staging area and support base in Cyprus,” and would comprise some “100 personnel from both the OPCW and the United Nations.”
The mission’s work will include three phases. During the first phase, the mission will “establish its initial presence in Damascus and develop an initial operating capability.”
During the second phase, through November 1, 2013, the OPCW should oversee the destruction by Syria’s authorities of “all chemical weapons production and mixing and filling equipment.”
During the third phase, until June 30, 2014, “the Joint Mission will be expected to support, monitor and verify the destruction of a complex chemical weapons program involving multiple sites” in Syria that includes “approximately 1,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, agents and precursors.”
The UN chief’s letter is due to be considered at a Security Council meeting on October 10.
International experts began eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons on Sunday in accordance with a US-Russian plan to seize and destroy the stockpiles that was approved in September 2013 by the OPCW and supported by a UN Security Council resolution.
More than two years of fighting between government and opposition forces in Syria have claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people, according to UN estimates.