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Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere at any time is unacceptable: UK Statement at the UN Security Council

They include the fate of several hundred tonnes of chemical warfare agents and thousands of chemical munitions. Instability in the region increases the risk of proliferation of chemical weapons to non-state actors.  And we regret that we cannot exclude the possibility of further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime or by non-state actors in Syria.  All states should meet their obligations under Resolution 1540 to ensure appropriate mechanisms are in place to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction as well as their means of delivery.  Despite the spin that our Russian colleagues attempted to put on this decision, its function was very clear.  Because until Syria cooperates constructively and transparently with the OPCW, until Syria grants unfettered access to the OPCW Declaration Assessment Team and until Syria fully declares and destroys its chemical weapons, this Council should also remain focused on this clear ongoing threat to international peace and security.   The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism and the OPCW have now confirmed nine uses of chemical weapons by the Assad regime; and four by Daesh. Thank you President and thank you Director Ebo for your comprehensive briefing this morning.  President, as we heard from Director Ebo this morning, the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team released its fourth report on 22 February.  President, Syria continues to fail to fulfil its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and under this Council’s Resolution 2118.  This latest report attributed responsibility to Daesh for a sulphur mustard attack in Marea on 1 September 2015. Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere at any time is unacceptable.   We commend the continued professionalism and expertise of the IIT and we condemn this confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria by Daesh.  As we have said many times in this chamber, the outstanding issues with Syria’s initial chemical weapons declaration that Director Ebo covered this morning are not academic.  It recommends that States Parties review and enhance domestic measures on the transfer of toxic dual use chemicals and materials to Syria; and secondly, it calls on states parties to strengthen cooperation at the OPCW on tackling the threat of chemical weapon use by non-state actors. President, Syria’s obstructive behaviour and failure to declare in full its chemical weapons stockpile gives no grounds for confidence in Syria’s handling of the chemicals and precursors that we know it retains. We need to remain focused on the risk that non-state actors develop, acquire or use chemical weapons.  At the Chemical Weapons Convention Conference of States Parties in November 2023, states parties adopted a Decision on ‘Addressing the Threat from Chemical Weapons Use and the Threat of Future Use.’ President, in the week in which Russia has called a Security Council meeting on the NATO intervention in Yugoslavia that took place 25 years ago, it’s rich that our Russian colleagues say that these meetings are pointless.  Thank you President.

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