The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday that Syria has met its first deadline for eliminating all chemical weapons in the country by destroying or abandoning all chemical weapons mixing, filling and production facilities. The United Nations and OPCW have joined together in the effort to get rid of all the country’s chemical weapons by the middle of 2014, and members from both organizations recently went to Syria to investigate 39 of 41 facilities involved in the chemical weapon process. The OPCW said, “it has verified – and seen destroyed – all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.”
All chemical weapons in the facilities were also put under seal for the inspectors’ visits, but David Reeths, director of aerospace and defense consulting for IHS Jane’s, said that Syria still has active chemical weapons, “so destruction of the production equipment has little to no impact on their immediate capabilities. Only after those weapons have been destroyed or removed from Syrian control will the state be demilitarized.”
The next step will come on November 15, when the team will need to approve Syria’s plan to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons. Though the OPCW said that the work done thus far is “a significant milestone,” and a “remarkable” accomplishment.