Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin speaks to media reporters after attending a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council, at the UN headquarters in New York, on Oct. 10, 2013. The UN Security Council on Thursday approved a plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon to eliminate Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday approved a plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon to eliminate Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons.
The British and Russian UN ambassadors, who were in a closed- door council consultations, said that the 15 council members approved Ban's plan to set up a joint mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations to rid Syria of chemical weapons in accordance with the latest Security Council resolution 2118, unanimously adopted on Sept. 27.
In an unusual, if not precedent-setting action, the council president, Ambassador Agshin Mehdiyev of Azerbaijan, was authorized to draft a letter of approval to the secretary-general, both the British and Russian envoys said.
All the council members support Ban's proposal for the joint mission and the plan "should be approved by letter soon," British UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said in a tweet from the council chambers.
Afterwards, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin emerged from the closed council meeting agreed, and explained the accord while speaking with reporters here.
"Our proposal (was) that the Security Council should take a shortcut in quickly approving this letter of the secretary-general and establishing the joint operation by OPCW-United Nations, approving it by a letter from the president of the Security Council in response to this letter of the secretary-general," he said, referring to Ban's 10-page letter sent on Oct. 7.
"That proposal was approved," Churkin said. "So, we are looking forward to receiving a draft letter from the president of the council for approval of the members of the Security Council, therefore establishing this joint mission."
Some destruction of chemical weapons manufacturing plants and other material already has been carried out. Syria is responsible for carrying out such work, under the eyes of the OPCW.
The Oct. 7 letter said the mission would be based in Cyprus, was expected to swell to about 100 persons and be finished by the middle of next year.
Churkin also told reporters the council members were concerned about how the joint team would be able to operate in a war zone.
"Hopefully the parties will respect the work of the OPCW and the United Nations," he said. "We know the Syrian government intends to do that so we hope that various opposition groups, especially armed opposition groups will also work in a manner which will not hinder this joint mission."
He said: "I understand the secretary-general is almost ready to appoint the special coordinator," adding "So, as soon as this letter is sent by the president of the Security Council we can expect this appointment to be announced."
A preliminary investigation team sent into Syria to exam three sites where the use of chemical weapons was suspected was quickly diverted after a massive attack was carried out near Damascus Aug. 21 to determine whether such munitions were used. Estimates ranged from hundreds to 1,400 people killed in that attack.
The UN team determined chemical weapons were used in the attack, but not by whom.
Shortly after the determination, the Syrian government said it would sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW and relinquish its vast arsenal to inspection, removal and destruction.
The determination also led to quick action by the council and Resolution 2118 was unanimously approved, calling for elimination of chemical weapons in Syria.
DAMASCUS, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Twelve more experts on chemical weapons were confirmed to have arrived in Syria, bringing the total strength of the Organization for the Prohibition the Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to 27, an OPCW official told Xinhua on Thursday.
The confirmation were made a day after Ahmet Uzumcu, head of the OPCW, said at a press conference in the Hague that 12 chemical experts were deployed to Syria. Full story