Ambassador Kelly Craft
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 12, 2020
Thank you, Sven. Thank you, Izumi, and Director-General Arias, and Coordinator Oñate, I have to say that these briefings have been extremely helpful and very illuminating, and I’d like to thank each of you for taking the time to be with us today.
Last month, the Council received from the Secretary-General the first report issued by the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team. The report explicitly attributed to the Assad regime responsibility for three chemical weapons attacks in Syria in March of 2017. Now, today, we have heard in person from the leaders of the OPCW and its IIT on the report’s findings. And the details they have shared with us are damning.
The United States urges this Council and its experts to carefully examine the report, and to consider it within the full context we received in today’s briefing.
The report’s findings couldn’t be any clearer; the evidence is irrefutable. In three separate incidents in March of 2017, the Assad regime dropped bombs containing sarin and chlorine on its people. One of these instances involved a hospital. The report further confirms prior evidence of the regime’s continued use of chemical weapons. But perhaps more than that, it has revealed, for all the world to see, the regime’s utter disregard for human life.
The report is equally clear that these military operations – operations of a highly strategic nature – were directed by the highest levels of the Syrian regime’s armed forces. The U.S. commends the courageous work of the OPCW and strongly supports its conclusions.
The Council in its entirety must take the report’s findings – and what we’ve heard here today – seriously. Because despite constant attacks on the credibility of the IIT and relentless efforts to politically undermine the technical and professional work of the OPCW, no amount of disinformation from Assad or his Russian enablers can hide or confuse the following facts which have been confirmed today: First, the Assad regime continues to use chemical weapons. And second, the regime is responsible for these and numerous other chemical weapons attacks since acceding to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013.
We urge all states to join us in holding the Assad regime accountable. Its continued flouting of Syria’s obligations under the CWC and Security Council Resolution 2118 cannot be ignored. The unchecked use of chemical weapons by any State presents an unacceptable security threat to all States. The use of these chemical weapons must not continue to occur with impunity.
If the actions of this Council are to serve the vital interests of the Member States of the United Nations – as our actions should – then we have a responsibility to hold the Assad regime accountable. We have a responsibility to hold it accountable for its continued use of chemical weapons, and for its failure to comply with its international obligations. But to meet that responsibility, passivity and procrastination will not suffice. We must take action – and we must take action now.