United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke with reporters for about 10 minutes this afternoon prior to his leaving to catch a flight for St. Petersburg, Russia for the meeting of the Group of 20 Global Nations (the G20) Leaders Summit. The meeting set to convene at the Constantine Palace on Thursday, September 5 and to continue through Friday, September 6.
The Secretary General explained that the weapons inspections team has been "working urgently to establish the facts, and the nature and extent of the use of any chemical weapons."
Explaining further, the Secretary General said that last Friday he had briefed the permanent members of the UN Security Council about the investigation and today he briefed the non-permanent members; and he noted that his High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela King, will brief other member states this afternoon:
The mission has worked around the clock following its return from Syria to prepare the materials it gathered for analysis, and I am pleased to announce that all biomedical and environmental samples will have arrived at the designated laboratories by tomorrow. We are doing our utmost to expedite the process.
Stressing further that while time is of the essence, it is important to be accurate in the findings, and care will be taken to assure that for those results that are time-sensitive, adequate time will be given and will not jeopardize "the scientific timelines required for accurate analysis."
As soon as the mission has arrived at the findings of the Ghouta incident [21 August 2013] I will promptly report the results to member states and to the Security Council.
As soon it can, the mission will return to Syria to complete this investigation and to prepare this final report.
As I have stressed repeatedly -- if confirmed -- any use of chemical weapons by anyone, under any circumstances, will be a serious violation of International Law and an outrageous war crime.
Almost a century ago, following the horrors of the first World War, the international community acted to ban these weapons of mass destruction.
Our common humanity compels us to make sure that these weapons do not become a tool of war for terror in the 21st century. Any perpetrators must be brought to justice. There should be no impunity.
Bearing in mind the primary responsibility of the Security Council, I call for its members to unite and develop an appropriate response -- should the allegations of use [of chemical weapons] prove to be true.
The Security Council has a duty to move beyond the current stalemate, and show leadership. This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria. This is about our collective responsibility to humankind. ..."
Given the urgent nature of the ongoing conflict in Syria -- and the alleged use of chemical weapons there -- the Secretary General announced today that although the agenda of the Leaders Summit was to be concerned principally about economic issues affecting global grown and ongoing global millennial goals, the crisis relating to the alleged use of chemical weapons will take precedence at this particular conference.
Speaking very straightforwardly, the Secretary General focused his remarks on the activities of the chemical weapons inspection team which completed its work in Syria over the weekend.
In response to one of two questions that the Secretary General was able to take before he hurried to catch his flight, he stressed that the mandate of that team of inspectors was to determine whether or not chemical weapons had been used in Damascus on 21 August, and that it was not part of the UN mandate on this particular occasion to determine who caused those chemical weapons to be used.