Transcript: U.N. Security Council President Gary Quinlan’s remarks on the use of chemical weapons in Syria – Sept. 16, 2013

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by U.N. Security Council President Gary Quinlan (Australia) on the Sellström report confirming the use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21st. The press briefing was held on Sept. 16, 2013:

Good afternoon. As you know, we’ve had a major presentation to the Security Council this morning by the Secretary General accompanied by Dr. [Åke] Sellström, who led the U.N. investigation team…

Obviously, we thank the Secretary General and the team itself, which managed to produce a report in record time but with obvious scientific rigor and with a credibility we cannot ignore. And we thank the team in particular, which faced some quite serious security issues, physical issues, when they undertook their work.

You’ve heard the Secretary General’s comments on a clear conclusion that there was the use of chemical weapons in Damascus on 21st August and the council now is very much focused on the implications of that. And the implications are obvious: We require urgent action undertaken through the council.

And the council is certainly unified in its condemnation of the use of chemical weapons anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

We very much welcome the agreement reached over the weekend between Russia and the United States to establish a mechanism to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

And we’ve agreed that a resolution is essential to that process. And we agreed working now on a resolution and that needs to include as the agreement reached over the weekend between United States and Russia itself said needs to provide steps to ensure verification and effective implementation. And that’s a direct quote.

I won’t set a timetable on this but all members of the council are seized with the urgency. As you know the initial step will be for the two governments who agreed this over the weekend to submit a decision – a draft decision – to the executive council of the OPCW in the Hague that will be tasked with the implementation at the technical level of the system of verification and implementation. That we hope will happen in the shortest time but we have to be realistic and these things have to be taken in the Hague step by step.

But work here on the elements of the draft resolution has already begun. Members of the council are talking to each other about all of this and we will continue to give that top priority over the coming days.

There’s a very strong sense in the council, I should say, that we must united and firm in devising a response, and I have high level of confidence that we will be able to achieve that.

There’s also a very strong sense in the council that we have to reaffirm the need for urgent move toward political solution, which of course is the only solution…

Question: …Are you talking about two different resolutions? One addressing the actual use of chemical weapons and one addressing the agreement…?

SC President, Gary Quinlan (Australia):
One resolution that is being talked about. There will be a decision of the OPCW council taken in the Hague and then we need to embody how we will implement that through a resolution…Let’s talk about the elements separately. Let’s take this step-by-step. Thank you very much.


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