Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
09:34 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Syria access vital for chemical arms inquiry: U.N.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (R) speaks to the media with  ke Sellstrِm (2nd L), the head of the UN chemical weapons investigation team, before their meeting April 29, 2013 at UN headquarters in New York. (AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA)
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (R) speaks to the media with ke Sellstrِm (2nd L), the head of the UN chemical weapons investigation team, before their meeting April 29, 2013 at UN headquarters in New York. (AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA)
A+ A-

UNITED NATIONS/MOSCOW: U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said Monday that investigators have been gathering and analyzing available information on alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria, but access to the war-torn country is needed for a “credible and comprehensive inquiry.”

The issue of possible chemical attacks by President Bashar Assad’s government has become a crucial factor that could lead to the United States and other Western powers stepping up their involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Ban created a U.N. inspection mission, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, in mid-March to investigate several claims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

But Syria has blocked unconditional and unfettered access by the U.N. mission, which has an advance team in Cyprus ready to deploy to Syria within 24 to 48 hours, and it is unlikely it will gain that type of access any time soon.

“On-site activities are essential if the United Nations is to be able to establish the facts and clear all the doubts surrounding this issue,” Ban told reporters before meeting with Sellstrom at the United Nations in New York.

“A credible and comprehensible inquiry requires full access to the site where chemical weapons are alleged to have been used,” Ban said. “I again urge Syrian authorities to allow the investigation to proceed without delay and without conditions.”

Ban said that in the meantime, the investigators were gathering and analyzing available information on the alleged attacks, which included possible visits to countries that said they had evidence of chemical weapons use.

A Western diplomat said British officials had shown Sellstrom evidence on which London based its assertion that there was “limited but growing” evidence of chemical weapons use by Syrian authorities.

But Sellstrom found the evidence inconclusive, said the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. Syria denies using chemical weapons.

Assertions of chemical weapon use in Syria by Western and Israeli officials citing photos, sporadic shelling and traces of toxins do not meet the standard of proof needed for U.N. investigators, according to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which works on U.N. inquiries.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov warned the West against using a search for chemical weapons in Syria as an excuse for ousting Assad along the lines of the notorious hunt for deadly arms in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Lavrov questioned why Ban was calling for the fact-finding mission by citing unproven claims of the regime’s use of chemical weapons in December.

“This demand by the secretary-general with reference to a forgotten episode reminds us a great deal of attempts in Syria to introduce a practice analogous to that which existed in Iraq, when they were looking for weapons of mass destruction there,” Lavrov said.

Russia was strongly opposed to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that toppled Hussein and has bitterly resisted foreign intervention in its close Middle East ally Syria.

Lavrov – speaking during a joint press appearance with African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – accused some governments and other players of using the threat of chemical warfare as a pretext for insisting on a foreign invasion of Syria.

“There are governments and outside players that believe that all means are appropriate to overthrow the Syrian regime,” said Lavrov, apparently referring to Western and anti-Assad Arab governments.

“But the subject of using weapons of mass destruction is too serious – it should not be joked around with.”

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was sparked by a search for weapons of mass destruction purportedly held by Hussein’s regime that were never found.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 30, 2013, on page 8.
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Syria
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Wednesday, April 23, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS