Transcript: U.K. Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant’s remarks on the U.N. report confirming the use of chemical weapons in Syria – Sept. 16, 2013

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by U.K. Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant on the Sellström report confirming the use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21st. The press briefing was held on Sept. 16, 2013:

…As you’ve heard from the Secretary General and the President of the Security Council, it was a very somber mood in the Security Council but also, I think, a mood of outrage in listening the Secretary General’s briefing and absorbing contents of the report of the U.N. inspection team.

I think this report and the briefing puts an end finally to the debate on whether chemical weapons have been used. They have been used on a large-scale on this one occasion

And the wealth of detail that you will find in the report and in particular in the annexes about the scale of the attack, to put it into perspectives just on those rocket samples that they were able examine, they had a payload of 350 liters, which is 35 times the amount that was used in the Tokyo subway. This was no cottage industry use of chemical weapons.

The quality of the weapons used – in response to a question, Mr. Sellström confirmed that the quality of the sarin was superior both to that used in the Tokyo subway but also to that used by Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war. Again, this does not point to a cottage industry chemical.

The type of munitions, the trajectories, which confirm the analysis that British experts have done about the provenance of where the rockets were fired from, all of that confirms in our view that there is no remaining doubt that it was regime that had used chemical weapons.

Of course, our experts and other experts will need to go through those annexes in great detail. But I think even at first glance, it reinforces the view that the British government has held for a long time that the regime was responsible.

In our view, the Security Council must now shoulder its responsibility. The Secretary General asked us to do so.

The United States and Russia have reached a framework agreement in Geneva over the weekend, which is a very significant step forward.

The next step will be a decision by the executive committee of the OPCW, and we hope that that will take place in the coming days.

Then we shall need in the Security Council to endorse both the framework agreement and the OPCW decision in a binding and enforceable Security Council resolution, and we are working on that with colleagues in the Security Council.

And this resolution needs to enshrine the OPCW decision in legally binding form because the OPCW does not have the ability to impose legally binding obligations. It needs to ensure that Syria fulfill its responsibility to surrender all its CW [chemical weapons] stocks to international community for destruction, and it needs to ensure there will be serious consequences in the failure to comply with these arrangements. There needs to be accountability for crimes committed, and there needs to be – in our view – in the resolution a renewed commitment from the Security Council to a political solution.

At the end of the day, there will be no military solution; there needs to be a political solution to this Syria crisis. And I hope that as the Security Council comes together after many divisions over the last few years, in the wake of this terrible chemical weapons attack, it will sow the seeds for making progress also on that political tract. Thank you very much.

Question: Ambassador, can you do a Chapter 7 without the use of force so then there’s some kind of obligation, mandatory obligation?

Mark Lyall Grant: Yes. There’s a lot of misunderstanding perhaps about the use of Chapter 7. Chapter 7 includes a range of measures. Only one of those, which is Article 42 of Chapter 7, authorizes the use of force. Articles 40 and 41 indeed expressly exclude the use of force. What Chapter 7 can do is impose legally binding obligations on other member states and that can’t be done under Chapter 6.

Question: How do you reconcile, Ambassador, what you just said. You’re saying that the regime in Damascus used these weapons and you’re calling for accountability. At the same time, you’re talking about an endorsement of agreement in Geneva that has that government of Syria – the regime in Syria – party to that agreement. How are you reconciling both the accountability and the punishment together in the same resolution with asking that party to be with you at the table?

Mark Lyall Grant: Well, I don’t think the Syrian government was party to the agreement in Geneva. That was an agreement between the United States and Russia.

But of course, our top priority now is to ensure that the deal that was struck is adhered to, is put into binding form, it is enforceable, it is verifiable, and it is taken forward. But that does not take away the need for accountability and we mustn’t lose sight of what has happened here. 1,400 or so people gassed to death. Women and children gassed to death by chemical weapons. There does need to be some accountability for what the Secretary General just now called war crime.

Question: [Inaudible]

Mark Lyall Grant: Well, I don’t want to go into detail of what is in the resolution, what is not in the resolution. There will need now some days of negotiations of the text, and I hope that those will take place in private and in confidence.

Question: …Is it days, is it weeks, is it months?

Mark Lyall Grant: Well, we are dependent on the OPCW and we’re getting different information about the speed of which the OPCW can move. But it’s possible that the OPCW will not be taking formal decision until the second half of this week. Of course, there is some work that we can do in terms of taking forward the U.N. aspects of this in the meantime, but clearly we cannot push a resolution to a vote until we have the OPCW decision. Because after all, the main purpose of this resolution is to endorse and support that OPCW decision.

Thank you very much.


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2 Comments on “Transcript: U.K. Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant’s remarks on the U.N. report confirming the use of chemical weapons in Syria – Sept. 16, 2013

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

  2. Pingback: U.N. inspection report confirms "large scale" chemical weapons attack in Ghouta | What The Folly?!

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