Saying that after deliberative review and based from its intelligence community assessment, the United States of America today disclosed new report that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition on multiple occasions in 2012.
In her remarks at a Security Council Stakeout on Syria in New York, Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, says the US government has delivered a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, providing its latest assessment of chemical weapons use in Syria.
She reports that the US government has requested that the UN fact-finding mission include the information in this letter in its ongoing investigation.
“With high confidence given multiple, independent streams of information, the Assad regime has used chemical weapons.” – Ms. Rice
The use of chemical weapons violates international law
Highlighting that while the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms.
“It crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades.” – Ms. Rice
The US believes that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons.
In addition, Ms. Rice clarifies that US govenrment has no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition has acquired or used chemical weapons.
Ms. Rice also says the US regrets that the Assad regime has failed to cooperate with the United Nations investigation by providing the necessary unfettered access and the ability to investigate any and all credible allegations of chemical weapons use.
“We will continue our own investigation and analysis, along with friends and allies, even as we continue to maintain that the United Nations investigation should be allowed to go forward.” – Ms. Rice
However, Ms. Rice points out that the Assad regime could prove that its request for a UN investigation was not just a diversionary tactic by granting the UN fact-finding mission immediate and unfettered access to conduct on-site investigations to help elucidate the truth about chemical weapons use in Syria.
Syrian regime refuses to grant access to UN team
Ms. Rice reiterates that the United States is very strongly supportive of the granting of unfettered access to the United Nations team to go on site inside various suspicious locations within Syria and to do the physical and forensic assessment that we all seek.
However, the Syrian regime has refused to allow the access that the UN and the Secretary General have requested repeatedly.
“And we think it’s high time that that access be granted.” – Ms. Rice
How US leads to a conclusion that Syria is using chemical weapons
Ms. Rice reports that the United States is using its own national means and in collaboration with other partners to gather strong evidences that are based through multiple streams of information that have led its intelligence community to assess with high confidence that indeed chemical weapons, including sarin gas, have been used on a small scale on multiple occasions over the past year.
“So we have been able to come to this conclusion through our own means.” – Ms. Rice
In addition, the US also feels very strongly that it’s important for the United Nations to be able to do its investigation on the ground inside Syria of any and all credible allegations.
She also explains that in the letter that the United States delivered and that she signed today on behalf of the United States, it was outlined the additional information that may contribute to that understanding of what has in fact transpired if the team were granted the access.
Is Syrian regime using chemical weapons?
Last month, reports have made headlines that there is a growing evidence that Syrian government troops have used chemical weapons.
The White House reportedly said that Syria had used the nerve agent sarin on a “small scale”.
However, Syrian officials slammed the allegations, saying the accusations are “lies”.
Reports also indicated that if proven the Syrian government is using chemical weapons, it would be a “red line” for possible international intervention.
However, amid the numerous accusations, there is no confirmation yet that chemical weapons have been used during Syria’s two-year-old conflict.
The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 90, 000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.