One week ago, Ban Ki-moon told the UN Security Council that the toughest part in the process of wiping out Syria's chemical weapons would come next month, when the actual destruction begins, reports the New York Times. Tougher than this, apparently: The Nobel Prize-winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it has been unable to access some of the roughly 20 suspected chemical weapons production sites on its inspections list due to routes that are blocked by the raging civil war. These roads run through rebel-held territory, which OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu says "change hands from one day to another." He's requesting local, hours-long ceasefires and is calling on "all sides" to cooperate.
Uzumcu reports that Syrian officials, for their part, have been fairly hospitable hosts, telling the BBC they have taken the team of about 60 inspectors wherever they have asked to go; they've made it to five sites so far. Still, it's the first time OPCW has operated in a war zone since its 1997 founding, and Uzumcu says mortar shells have landed "next to the hotel where our team is staying and there are exchanges for fire not far from where [the inspectors] go." Syria today joins the Chemical Weapons Convention; the Times notes it will do so without any formal ceremony.