The security situation in war-torn Syria has prevented international inspectors from visiting two remaining chemical weapons sites, the global watchdog said Monday.
Inspectors had by Sunday visited 21 of 23 chemical sites, but “the two remaining sites have not been visited due to security reasons,” The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement.
Efforts by the joint OPCW-United Nations mission charged with destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal by mid-2014 “to ensure the conditions necessary for safe access to those sites will continue,” said the OPCW, which won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Syria has submitted a formal declaration of its chemical weapons programme ahead of an October 27 deadline, together with a general plan of destruction.
Inspectors on the unprecedented mission in a war zone were supposed to have visited all sites declared by Syria by the same deadline of Sunday.
Damascus was required to submit the destruction plan under a US-Russian deal agreed last month that headed off military strikes on Syria.
President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has handed over an inventory of its chemical weapons and facilities, and international inspectors are already busy inspecting and destroying them.
A first monthly report of the inspectors, covering their work on the ground since October 1, is to be sent to the UN Security Council by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
The OPCW’s Executive Council will use the Syrian declaration to decide by November 15 on “destruction milestones” for Syria’s arsenal.
Syria has also sent in a declaration of its chemical weapons activities and facilities, meeting its obligations as a new state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention.