Syria has completed the destruction of its equipment for producing chemical weapons and filling munitions with poison gas, the global chemical weapons watchdog said today.
The announcement comes one day ahead of the deadline set by the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for the Assad regime to destroy or "render inoperable" all chemical weapon factories.
International Editor Bill Neely reports.
Destruction of the equipment means that Syria can no longer produce new chemical weapons, though Damascus still has to start destroying existing weapons and stockpiles.
The country is believed to have around 1,000 metric tons of chemicals and weapons, including mustard gas and the nerve agent sarin.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, said they were satisfied that all of Syria's declared weapon production equipment.
The Joint Mission is now satisfied that it has verified - and seen destroyed - all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.
Given the progress made in the Joint OPCW-UN Mission in meeting the requirements of the first phase of activities, no further inspection activities are currently planned.
The next milestone for the mission will be 15 November, by which time the Executive Council must approve a detailed plan of destruction submitted by Syria to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile.
However the harder part of the process is still to come, experts say, as the regime's existing agents need decommissioned, transported and destroyed and it is still unclear whether Assad declared his full arsenal to the UN and the OPCW.
– Amy Smithson, US Monterey Institute
What is unknown at present is whether Assad has declared everything in his arsenal - remember, Gaddafi kept a stash and Saddam tried his best to do the same but was outmaneuvered by savvy, determined inspectors - and to what extent Syrian cooperation will continue.