Transcript: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on Syria – Sept. 9, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The press briefing was held on Sept. 9, 2013:

…Syria dominated the summit meeting in a way no other political development has ever done at the G-20 Summit. It also dominated all the bilateral meetings I had with world leaders.

The main focus was on the allegation of chemical weapons used and the forthcoming report from my investigation team. I have not yet received the report from Dr. [Åke] Sellström nor do I know it contains.

But I do know there has been significant speculation regarding a major use of chemical agents on Aug. 21st, leading to the deaths of hundreds of civilian people.

Should this be confirmed by the report from Dr. Sellström and his investigation team, then this would be an abominable crime and the international community would certainly have to do something about it.

Two-and-half years of conflict in Syria have produced only embarrassing paralysis in the Security Council. Should Dr. Sellström’s report confirm the use of chemical weapons, then this would surely be something around which the Security Council could unite in response and indeed something that should merit universal condemnation.

I’m already considering certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council representing the investigation team’s report.

There would be a need for accountability, both to bring to justice those who used them should Dr. Sellström confirm their use and to deter anyone else from using this abhorrent method of warfare. There would be a need for greater security regarding any chemical weapons stocks.

And there remains an urgent need for the international conference in Geneva and a cessation of hostilities.

The Syrian people need peace…

Press briefing Q&A:

Question:
…There was an announcement this morning by the Russian Foreign Minister that Russia will press Syria to put the chemical weapons under U.N. control. And the President of Syria Bashar al-Assad told Charlie Rose in an interview that he could not even acknowledge that there were chemical weapons in Syria. How do you think an agreement by Russia would come about? Do you know anything about it? And would it lead to Security Council action?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
…I have taken note of Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia’s remarks just a short while ago in Moscow. And I have also took note of Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks earlier today in London. I welcome these ideas.

In fact, as I said in my introductory remarks, I have already been considering certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council when I present the investigation team’s report.

For a number of days already, I have been considering our proposals in particular. I’m considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed.

And I urge again that Syria should become a party to OPCW.

Question:
[On the potential need to evacuate U.N. staff if war breaks out]

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
We have quite a number of U.N. staff working in Syria, including international staff and domestic national staff…We have been taking very careful, necessary preparations and considerations on how we should ensure the safety and security of U.N. staff there. We will continue to very carefully monitor the evolving situation. I can assure you that the security and safety of U.N. is paramount, but at the same time, the amount of humanitarian work which we have to do – delivering humanitarian assistance daily to many people who need our support. Therefore, I can assure that we are making necessary preparations concerning safety and security of our staff.

Question:
…If Syria says yes to transferring its chemical stocks to international control, how quickly could you – the U.N. – respond to take control of those stocks? What’s the time frame?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
I think that would be a proper way for Syria to do – agree to these proposals. Then I’m sure that the international community will have a very swift action to make sure that these stocks – chemical weapons stocks – will be stored safely and will be destroyed. I do not have any worry or doubt about that.

First and foremost, Syria must agree positively to this.

Question:
…The Foreign Minister of Russia has said that if the United States goes ahead with military action against Syria that will be the end of the possibility of peace talks in Geneva. Do you believe this is the case? And what would you urge the U.S. Congress to do?

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
As you know, I was there in the summit. I spoke with the Joint Special Representative Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and we discussed all the matters concerning the current situation and how the current situation and the current debate on the possible international response could effect the Geneva II peace conference.

At this time, of course, we can easily think that this may affect negatively to convening the Geneva conference, but it is important…that we continue to pursue, to convene the Geneva conference as soon as possible. This political resolution – political solution is the only viable option at this time.

There were a lot of discussions and debates among the world leaders on many possible issues but at this time, I do not have any clear answer to this. But what I can assure you that I and Lakhdar Brahimi will continue to work very closely together with the United States and Russia, who are the initiators of this.

Question:
…How do you expect to be – or what suggestion do you have to make sure that those who are responsible for using them are indeed punished because your U.N. team is not going to place blame on any party? They’re just going to confirm whether they were used or not.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:
I believe that this is separate issues.

Accountability process is…one and making sure that nobody commits such horrendous use of chemical weapons and also make sure that the current Syrian chemical weapon stock should be safely stored and destroyed so that there will be no such possibility.

So I believe that even with this, the accountability should be pursued in accordance with what had happened, in accordance with the investigative team’s report.

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2 Comments on “Transcript: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks on Syria – Sept. 9, 2013

  1. Pingback: Russia supports U.S. call for Syria to turn over chemical weapons to international community for dismantling | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Syria: Chemical Weapons | What The Folly?!

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