Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 5, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu, for your briefing.

The United States is pleased that the agreement to establish a demilitarized zone in and around Idlib continues to hold. We again note that any military offensive in Idlib would be a reckless escalation that would bring further instability.

The United States is standing with Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to support his effort to make progress toward a durable political solution as the best chance of forestalling additional episodes where the Assad regime might again consider using chemical weapons. The Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, independently confirmed by the UN Commission of Inquiry and the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism, is a clear demonstration of why the UN-led political process must move, make progress, and succeed without further delay.

The regime used deadly chemical weapons on its own people. There must be accountability for this, and there must be a political transition in accordance with resolution 2254 that ensures justice and that prevents anyone, and particularly the Assad regime, from using chemical weapons again.

Provocations and disinformation by the Assad regime and Russia must stop, including their continued attempts to falsely accuse humanitarian first responders and heroes – the White Helmets – of planning chemical weapons attacks in Idlib or elsewhere. This is especially ridiculous as independent mechanisms created in this very council have found the Syrian regime to be the party responsible for chemical weapons use in Syria.

The United States again expresses its strong support for the OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission in its work of investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. We strongly support implementation of the OPCW’s attribution arrangements for cases where the FFM has determined use or likely use has occurred.

Attribution for CW use in Syria is one of the steps necessary for accountability and to prevent future use.

The United States continues to hope that this Council will unite around the notion, thought to have been well established and accepted for 100 years, that chemical weapons have no place in our world. Everyone, and particularly the Syrian people, deserve to live without the fear of these horrific weapons.

I thank you.