Gaming the OPCW and the UNSC?

Yesterday I reflected on the hybridisation of coercive and cooperative disarmament arrangements regarding the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. I argued that President Bashar al-Assad is seeking to challenge the coercive elements in the CW disarmament project, but that he will not defy the overall obligations assumed under the CWC.

In a session on 6 February, the UN Security Council reviewed progress thus far. According to an Agence France Presse report, it rejected several of Syria’s explanations for the delays and concluded  that the country should speed up the process to remove the precursor chemicals from its territory. Unsurprisingly, some Western countries – notably the USA and the UK – offered the harshest criticism, while Russia parried

This morning I came across Syria’s reaction to the meeting conclusions in two identical letters addressed to the UN Secretary General and President of the UNSC, from which the Kuwait News Agency quoted extensively. It seems to confirm that Syria may be gaming the status differences it enjoys in the OPCW and the UNSC [emphasis added]:

The press statement issued by the UNSC following its last session on February 6 on the Syrian chemical file said nothing about Syria’s sustained and constructive cooperation with the joint mission that has been praised by UNSC member countries, the UN General Assembly, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), among others. […]

These countries have strayed from the truth and the objective assessment of what Syria has accomplished in the context of implementing its obligations according to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). […]

The unfair campaign coincided with the convening of Geneva II and the positive attitude of Syria towards it. […]

This escalation; however, is clear indication of more pressure brought to bear on Syria with the intent of influencing Geneva II. […]

According to the KUNA report, ‘Syria also said that countries which criticize Syrian government ha[ve] not got rid of their chemical weapons’, a clear reference to the United States.

Which, of course, is an interesting way of saying that it wishes to be treated equally.

 

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About JP Zanders

Jean Pascal Zanders (Belgium) has worked on questions of chemical and biological weapon (CBW) armament and disarmament since 1986. He was CBW Project Leader at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Director of the BioWeapons Prevention Project and Senior Research Fellow responsible for disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation questions at the European Union Institute for Security Studies. He now owns and runs The Trench.