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Statement of H.E. Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh at the Security Council on The "Chemical File" in Syria

Tuesday, 05 October 2021
Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh
Security Council

I would like to congratulate you, Mr. President, on assuming the presidency of the Security Council this month and to thank your predecessor for her efforts last month.

In speaking to the General Assembly on 27 September (see A/76/PV.16), our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Mr. Fayssal Mekdad, said that the Syrian Arab Republic reiterated once again that it categorically condemned and rejected any use of chemical weapons under any circumstance, by whomever, whenever and wherever. It is for that reason that Syria voluntarily joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and met all its obligations in record time. Syria continues to cooperate with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to close this dossier as soon as possible.

The statements made by the representatives of some States today clearly demonstrated that they continue to turn a deaf ear to the truth. They continue to politicize this dossier by insisting on levelling baseless accusations and focusing on procedural details, which should not concern the Security Council. They also deliberately disregard the serious measures that Syria has taken and our genuine cooperation with the OPCW.

With regard to the briefing by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, my delegation regrets the continued lack of balance and impartiality in her briefings while ignoring over the past years Syria’s concerns and the information that it has provided.

On 16 September, Syria submitted its 95th monthly report on the activities related to the destruction of chemical weapons and their production facilities. We also welcomed the meeting to be held between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and the OPCW Director-General in Damascus. The focal points on both sides are preparing for that meeting.

My country also welcomed the visit of the Declaration Assessment Team to Damascus to hold the twenty-fifth round of consultations pursuant to the date agreed upon by both parties. We granted the necessary visas to all the members of the Team, with the exception of one person, after we asked for his replacement. In that regard, we note that entry visas are granted based on national and sovereign procedures and instructions applicable by the Syrian State to all employees of the United Nations, its agencies and international organizations, including the OPCW. That measure was therefore not an exception. Not granting an entry visa to a member of the Declaration Assessment Team must not negatively affect the performance of the Team as a whole. Moreover, the OPCW has several experts and specialized personnel to replace someone who proved to be non-objective.

Just for clarification, the Declaration Assessment Team is not an investigative team. I noticed during the statements by some colleagues that there is some confusion. The Declaration Assessment Team is not an investigative team. It is a Team that should help the Syrian National Committee in presenting its declaration. Despite that fact, the Syrian National Committee accepted a proposal, later submitted by the Technical Secretariat, to hold the round of consultations at its headquarters in The Hague. It appears that the information of my colleague from France needs to be updated.

The report of the Director-General addressed the visit of the Declaration Assessment Team. It held Syria responsible for the Technical Secretariat’s inability to plan for the missions of its various teams. That is inaccurate, non-objective and we categorically reject it. All members recall when the Director-General spoke in this Chamber in June (see S/PV.8785) about postponing the Team’s visit until after summer, at a time when Syria had a genuine interest in accelerating discussions with the Team and closing the dossier.

Some States continue to raise the issue of the two cylinders related to the alleged incident in Douma. My delegation previously clarified to the Security Council the importance of those two cylinders for Syria as legal and material evidence to reject the claims related to that incident and as a proof that terrorist groups possessed toxic chemicals. My delegation rejects the attempts by some States to distract attention from condemning the Israeli aggression against Syria’s sovereignty, which led to the destruction of the two cylinders. Instead, they focus only on technical and procedural matters.

Syria and other countries have called for a review of the report on the alleged incident in Douma. It is fabricated and full of lies. In that regard, I would like to refer to the article featured in The Daily Mail on 5 September in which the British Broadcasting Corporation admitted that a Radio 4 documentary on the alleged incident in Douma contained errors and false allegations. That proves once again that opensource information can be manipulated easily; it lacks credibility.

The flawed methods of work adopted by the FactFinding Mission when investigating the alleged incident in Douma were also adopted in its investigation into other incidents. The Fact-Finding Mission lacked commitment to the rules outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention, including collection of evidence and samples while preserving the chain of custody. It relied on open sources and information provided by terrorist groups and their affiliates, such as the White Helmets.

My delegation expresses grave concerns about the delay by the Fact-Finding Mission in announcing the outcome of its investigation into incidents reported by the Syrian Government since 2017 on the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups. We also express concern about the fabrication of evidence years after other alleged incidents took place. Moreover, the Fact Finding Mission continues to disregard the information we provide on terrorist groups that possess chemical  weapons and on preparing to use them and fabricate incidents and accusations against the Syrian Arab Army.

Some members of the Security Council insist on politicizing this dossier by doubting Syria’s cooperation. That has become clear. They attempt to conceal the practices of terrorist groups that used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens and the Syrian Arab Army. That has also become very clear. They are misinterpreting the text of the Convention’s to establish illegitimate mechanisms and adopt a resolution against Syria. That sets a dangerous precedent in the work of the organization.

In that regard, I would like to remind the representative of the United States, who demonstrated his excellent mathematical skills, that 167 States participated in the Conference of the Parties in April. Therefore, the 87 countries that supported the resolution represent almost half the number of countries that took part in the Conference. The United States colleague disregarded the fact that 34 countries abstained in the voting and that 31 countries were not present, while 15 countries voted against the resolution. Hence the other half of the countries that took part in the Conference did not vote in favour of the resolution. That is just an example of how the United States distorts information.

I would like to underscore that the Syrian Arab Republic is not trying to jeopardize the work of the OPCW. Rather, we are defending its professionalism and objectivity. We reject the attempts by some States to use the organization as a tool to achieve their objectives against Syria. If those States do not change their destructive behaviour and disruptive agendas against my country, we will be unable to have objective discussions on this dossier and bring it to an objective and professional conclusion.