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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the Security Council VTC Meeting on Syria (chemical weapons), August 5, 2020

05.08.2020 - Speech

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We received a couple of days ago, the 82nd monthly report of the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons pursuant to Resolution 2118, and we have had many dozens of meetings in the Security Council in which we have discussed the lack of progress by the Syrian regime in implementing Resolution 2118.

Syria has indeed not fully complied with obligations dating from 2013. It has not fully complied with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Not only has Syria continued to stall and to obstruct, the Syrian regime has also repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own population. It has also probably used the missing chemical agents that the Declaration Assessment Team are still trying to account for.

Those who claim now that the entire chemical weapons arsenal has been declared in 2013 and subsequently destroyed make a case which defies logic. Either the Syrian regime has not fully declared their arsenal or they have continued to produce chemical weapons. These are the only conclusions that are logically to be drawn here. The fact is, an expert body, after extremely careful and thorough investigations, has found reasonable grounds to conclude that the Syrian Arab Air Force is responsible for at least three attacks with sarin and chlorine gas against the Syrian population, with one of these attacks being an attack on a hospital.

Many colleagues have mentioned the decision made in July and The Hague at the OPCW Executive Council. This is an important signal to Damascus and it has been supported by practically everybody on the Board. I think it's a signal that the international community is running out of patience. This decision has granted the regime another 30 days to finally declare all stockpiles and facilities, including the ones involved in the attacks from March 2017 and resolve all outstanding questions.

We call on all those - also among us - who continue to support the Assad regime and to provide cover for its crimes, to finally live up to their responsibility to make sure that action is finally taken and that the use of chemical weapons stops once and for all. We will continue to make this case here and elsewhere. We will also continue to push for accountability because we believe that there can only be a just and lasting peace in Syria if perpetrators of these most heinous crimes are brought to justice.

In closing, I would like to underline that I align myself with all of those who have stressed today that the IIT has followed the highest professional standards in its methodology and that the IIT experts, like all staff of the OPCW Technical Secretariat, are impartial and independent in their approach. 

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