Ban tasks UN Security Council on Syria’s chemical weapons report

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


New York, US – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday urged the UN Security Council to act decisively on the report of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Speaking to reporters in New York, after a closed-door briefing to the Council on the investigating team’s work, Ban called the results ”overwhelming and indisputable”.

”The facts speak for themselves. The United Nations Mission has now confirmed, unequivocally
and objectively, that chemical weapons have been used in Syria,” he said.

He noted that 85 per cent of blood samples from the sites in Ghouta tested positive for Sarin, and that the majority of the rocket fragments were also found to be carrying the deadly nerve agent.

“There must be accountability for the use of chemical weapons. Any use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, is a war crime. But our message today must be more than do not slaughter your people with gas. There must also be no impunity for the crimes being committed
with conventional weapons,” Ban said.

He also said the incident marked the most serious chemical weapons incident since Saddam Hussein’s attack on the Halabja region of Iraq, and the worst use of weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.

“The international community has a responsibility to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure that chemical weapons never re-emerge as an instrument of warfare,” he added.

The UN chief, however, described as ”welcome development that come with strict obligations” the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention and its belated acknowledgement that it possesses chemical weapons.

Responding to questions, Ban said the investigating team had been able to determine objectively that Sarin was used on a relatively large scale.

He welcomed the understanding that has been reached regarding the safeguarding and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

The investigation team, led by Swedish scientist Åke Sellstrom, also concludes in
particular that the environmental, chemical and medical samples collected provide “clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-air rockets containing the nerve agent Sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah, and Zamalka, in the Ghouta area of Damascus”.

Formally known as the Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Sellstrom’s team was established by the UN Secretary-General on 21 March 2013.

It was assisted by experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).