Key Takeaways from 99th OPCW Report on Syrian Chemical Weapons Program

Published:  6 January 2022

The OPCW published its 99th monthly report on the Progress in the Elimination of the Syrian Chemical Weapons Programme on 23 December 2021. 

UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu presented the document during a Jan. 5 UN Security Council meeting, reporting that “while Syria has submitted 17 amendments and several supplements to its initial declaration, 20 of the 24 outstanding issues opened by the Declaration Assessment Team in 2014 remain unresolved, involving, among other things, undeclared research, production and/or weaponization of unknown quantities of chemical weapons.” 

Below is a summary of key take aways from the 99th monthly report. 

Tripartite Agreement Renewed

  • The Tripartite Agreement between the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the OPCW, and the Syrian Arab Republic was extended until 30 June 2022. The agreement “facilitates the Secretariat’s mandated activities in the Syrian Arab Republic pertaining to the full elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons program.” 

Barzah and Jamrayah Facilities Inspected

  • The OPCW’s Technical Secretariat conducted the 8th round of inspections at the Barzah and Jamrayah facilities of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) in Syria from 10 to 17 December 2021. The report states that the outcome of these inspections will be “reported in due course.” During the third round of inspections in November 2018, the OPCW detected a Schedule 2.B.04 schedule at the Barzah facilities of the SSRC. Syria has not yet provided the OPCW with a sufficient explanation. 

CW Production Facility Declaration Issue Remains

  • The report stated that the OPCW is “still waiting to receive the declaration from the Syrian Arab Republic, requested on 21 October 2020, of all undeclared types and quantities of nerve agents produced and/or weaponized at one former CWPF [chemical weapon production facility] that was declared as never having been used to produce and/or weaponise chemical warfare agents.” 

Visa Stalemate Continues

  • The OPCW has been attempting to schedule the 25th round of consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team and the Syrian National Authority since 30 April 2021. The deployment of the 25th consultation has been delayed “by repeated refusals by the Syrian Arab Republic to issue an entry visa for one DAT member.” 

Questions about Destroyed Cylinders Remain Unanswered

  • On July 9, 2021, the Syrian government notified the OPCW that “two chlorine cylinders related to the chemical weapons incident that took place in Douma, the Syrian Arabic Republic, on 7 April 2018” were destroyed in an attack. On 15 July 2021, the OPCW responded to Syria, asking for additional information, including “all relevant information regarding the unauthorized movement of the two cylinders and any remains of their destruction.” The 99th report stated that no additional information has been provided by Syria. 

Preparations for OPCW/Syria In-Person Meeting Underway

  • OPCW Director General Fernando Arias invited the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Syrian Arab Republic, Mr. Faisal Mekdad, to an in-person meeting. The 99th report stated that “both parties have appointed officials in charge of the preparations,” and that the “Secretariat will keep the Council informed of further developments.”