UN Council approves Syria disarmament plan
The UN Security Council on Friday formally approved a first joint mission with the Nobel Peace Prize winning global chemical arms watchdog to destroy Syria's weapons.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN have a team of 60 experts and support staff in Syria destroying Syria's production facilities while the country's civil war rages on.
The 15-member Security Council sent a letter to Ban on Friday backing his plan to fully eradication of Syria's banned chemical arms.
Ban was to name Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands as head of the joint mission, UN sources said. Kaag is a UN assistant secretary general working at the UN Development Program.
The Security Council's formal backing was given just as it was announced that the OPCW had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
"This recognition occurs nearly 100 years after the first chemical attack -- and 50 days after the appalling use of chemical weapons in Syria. Far from being a relic of the past, chemical weapons remain a clear and present danger," Ban said in a tribute to the OPCW.
Ban said in a draft plan sent to the Security Council that up to 100 experts will be needed to destroy Syria's sarin, mustard gas and other chemical weapons by the middle of 2014.
He has warned they will have to operate in unprecedented danger because of a civil war that has left well over 100,000 dead.
The mission will have bases in Damascus and Cyprus, where most inspectors will stay unless they are on site visits.
A chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 21, which left hundreds dead, sparked an international crisis that led to threats of a US military strike against Syrian government targets.
The Security Council passed a resolution on September 27 backing a Russia-US plan to destroy President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons which ended the military threat.
The team has been doubled to about 60 people in recent days, the UN said Friday.
The team "has made good progress in verifying the information submitted" by the Syrian government, said a UN statement.
"At the end of the first 10 days of operations on the ground the verification teams have inspected three sites and plans are underway for further site visits," said the statement.
"As OPCW has received initial and supplementary information from Syria on its chemical weapons program, the advance team is now in the process of verifying that information.
"It has also overseen the destruction by Syria of some of its munitions stockpile, as well as some of its chemical weapons production equipment."
© 2013 AFP