United Nations Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

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

Wednesday, 08 December 2021
Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh
Security Council

At the outset, I congratulate you, Mr. President, on assuming the presidency of the Security Council this month. I also thank your predecessor for his efforts during his presidency of the Council last month.

Last week, the second Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction took place, in which my country participated actively given its firm belief that it is necessary to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, which are a threat to regional and international peace and security. My country also stressed the importance of the five nuclear-weapon States participating in the Conference as observers, because they play a fundamental role in supporting consultations aimed at creating such a zone.

However, one State, which is a depositary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and a sponsor of the 1995 decision on the Middle East, namely, the United States of America, has continued to boycott the work of that important Conference and has continued to protect Israel and its enormous arsenal of various weapons of mass destruction. We would have liked to have seen the same enthusiasm that we saw today from the United States delegation when it came to the elimination of Israeli arsenal, which represents a threat to the peace and security in the Middle East.

My country reiterates our unequivocal condemnation of the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. Despite the prevailing politicization in the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Syria has continued to cooperate with the OPCW in furtherance of the commitments my country undertook from the day it acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Our accession was followed by my country’s elimination of its entire stock of chemical weapons and their production facilities in record time.

In that regard, I would like to mention some aspects of cooperation between Syria and the OPCW.

First, my country continues its ongoing consultations and cooperation with the OPCW in order to prepare for the planned meeting between the Foreign Minister of Syria, Mr. Fayssal Mekdad, and the OPCW Director-General, Mr. Fernando Arias.

Secondly, the Syrian Arab Republic presented the OPCW its ninety-sixth monthly report, in which it reiterated continuous cooperation with the organization and expressed its regret with regard to attempts to undermine that cooperation. Furthermore, Syria responded to non-positive references about it contained in the latest report of the Director-General (see S/2021/989).

Thirdly, my country agreed to extend for six months the tripartite agreement among the Syrian Arab Republic, the OPCW and the United Nations Office for Project Services. That includes the facilitation and planning of OPCW activities and missions in Syria.

Fourthly, my country has welcomed the visit by the Declaration Assessment Team to Damascus for the holding of the twenty-fifth round of consultations as agreed between the two parties. Visas were delivered to all but one member of the Team. That member was not issued a visa because past experience proved him not to be objective. I stress that only one visa was withheld, not several, as some countries have claimed in their statements. The Team can visit Damascus tomorrow, if it so wishes.

Fifthly, my country welcomed the request of the Technical Secretariat to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Syria. We hope that it will finish its investigations and issue its reports regarding incidents reported by Syria about the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups. Those incidents happened more than five years ago. In her briefing, I would have liked Mrs. Nakamitsu to have urged the organization’s Team to draw up its report on the matter.

Sixthly, the Syrian Arab Republic regularly presents information regarding the possession and use of toxic chemical weapons and materials by terrorists. Most recently, that was done through a letter sent from Syria to the President of the Security Council and the Secretary-General dated 29 November. That letter demonstrates the collusion between the Turkish intelligence services and the terrorist Al-Nusra Front/ Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham.

As far as the work of the Declaration Assessment Team, my delegation would like to clarify that its mandate is limited to providing assistance to the Syrian National Committee on its initial declaration. Syria voluntarily welcomed work with the Team and cooperated with it for many years, through 24 rounds of consultation. Syria stresses that the Team is not an investigative body. It must therefore respect the information provided by Syria and present it honestly to the States parties. Furthermore, in spite of what was claimed in the latest report of the Director-General and in Mrs. Nakamitsu’s briefing today, the Technical Secretariat does not have a mandate to determine whether that information is valid from a scientific point of view.

As to the issuance of visas to international officials, that is a sovereign right of Syria, based purely on the professionalism and objectivity of the work of those officials. In that regard, it is important to emphasize that multilateralism is based not on the work of individuals but on that of the team as a whole. Syria showed significant flexibility to facilitate the holding of the twenty-fifth round of consultations. In fact, we agreed to send Syrian experts to The Hague. That was blocked for very unconvincing reasons, which really mask a sabotage attempt.

The Syrian Arab Republic reiterates that the information contained in its initial declaration and subsequent declarations is complete and accurate. We have always demonstrated openness to working transparently and objectively with the Declaration Assessment Team to provide all relevant clarifications. We therefore categorically reject the questioning of that information. We believe that certain States are guilty of lies and exaggeration as part of a hostile policy towards Syria.

While we wish to see the OPCW as the guarantor of the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and play its role regarding this important pillar of disarmament, we regret that it has become a platform that is exploited by a State, or a group of States, to target certain States, such as Syria or other countries. The disgraceful performance of the FactFinding Mission in the investigation of the Douma incident, whose scandalous repercussions continue to this day, the illegal establishment of the Investigation and Identification Team to use it as a sword of Damocles to undermine the national choices of certain countries and their rejection to hegemony politics and the unprecedented decision taken by the Conference of the States Parties to suspend Syria’s enjoyment of its rights and privileges, which is not based on any documented facts or conclusions, amount to hostile practices against a State party that voluntarily joined the Convention. That reflects the way in which the United States and its Western allies dominate the work of the OPCW and pursue a hegemonic policy to serve their agendas, which has contributed to widening the divide and mistrust pertaining to the credibility, professionalism and impartiality of the work of the OPCW teams, thereby undermining its role.

In conclusion, those who talk about accountability in their statements are using the noble values of justice for political purposes. That happens in the OPCW. The basic principles of accountability require abandoning a selective approach that serves the interests of a particular State. That is why accountability must apply to all war crimes, including occupation, aggression and support for terrorism, for which certain States are responsible, particularly the destruction of a Member State and the dismantling of its institutions based on lies that are fabricated and presented in the Security Council itself or on a biased interpretation of the Charter of the United Nations. Such States must end their hypocrisy and their policy of double standards and stop exploiting such policies for their own political purposes.