Iran’s deputy foreign minister told a Lebanese media outlet Monday that Iran and joint UN-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had reached an agreement on resolving the crisis in Syria.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen that the solution to the Syrian civil war, agreed to while Brahimi was in Tehran over the weekend, would be based on internationally-monitored elections.
Amir-Abdollahian also called for dialogue between his country, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, to help solve the Syrian crisis, reported Walla News.
International inspectors overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile missed an early deadline over the weekend in a brutally tight schedule after security concerns prevented them from visiting two sites linked to Damascus’ chemical program.
The chief of the global chemical weapons watchdog disclosed for the first time in a report obtained by The Associated Press that Syria has declared 41 facilities at 23 chemical sites where it stored approximately 1,300 tons of precursors and agents, and over 1,200 unfilled munitions to deliver them.
Ahmet Uzumcu said in his first report to the UN Security Council that inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had corroborated the information provided by Syria at 37 of the 41 facilities.
But the OPCW said inspectors were only able to visit 21 of the 23 sites because of security risks — which means the tight timeline for visiting all declared sites by Oct. 27 was missed.
While there are no consequences for missing the deadline, the group’s failure to meet it underscores the ambitious timeline as well as the risks its inspectors face in carrying out their mission in the middle of Syria’s civil war.
The OPCW did not say who was responsible for the security problems, but Uzumcu has said in the past that temporary cease-fires may have to be negotiated between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad to reach some sites.
The two sites appear to be in rebel-held or contested areas. At least one location is believed to be the town of al-Safira, which experts say is home to a production facility as well as storage sites. It has been engulfed by fighting for months, and many rebels in the area are from al-Qaeda-linked groups.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a seven-page letter to the Security Council, also obtained by AP, that the joint OPCW-UN mission is constantly reviewing security at the two locations “with the intention of visiting them as soon as conditions permit.”
The mission faces a string of target dates for specific tasks as it aims to achieve the overall goal of ridding Syria of its chemical stockpile by mid-2014. The next target is Nov. 1 when Syria is to complete the “functional destruction” of all equipment to produce chemical weapons, aimed at ensuring that Syria can no longer make new chemical weapons.
The UN chief said he expects the destruction to be completed on time, “with the possible exception” of the two sites.