Statement from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK Minister for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and United Nations:
In August, we commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Syrian regime’s horrific chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, Damascus, which killed 1,400 innocent civilians – including hundreds of women and children. Under international pressure following that attack, Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and committed to stop its chemical weapons programme and destroy all its stockpiles. This is a commitment all states enter into on joining the CWC.
In the 10 years that have passed, the Syrian regime has ignored these obligations. It has carried out at least nine further chemical weapons attacks using sarin or chlorine. The hundreds of victims deserve justice.
Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons confirm beyond all doubt that, despite repeated Syrian regime assurances, it has not declared and destroyed all of its stockpile. It has continued to obstruct the efforts of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to verify its destruction and frustrated UN and OPCW work to investigate chemical weapons attacks.
We commend the OPCW’s perseverance over the last 10 years. Responsibility for compliance rests solely with Syria: it must declare and destroy its chemical weapons; it must cooperate with the OPCW to assure the world that it has renounced chemical weapons and that the destruction of its chemical weapons stocks is verified and complete.
Syria has chemical weapons and must not be able to use them again. With international partners, the UK has in place sanctions and trade restrictions applied to Syria on goods and technology relating to chemical weapons.
Victims deserve accountability for violations of international law. The UK supports international mechanisms in pursuit of this, including the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria. Those responsible for chemical weapons in Syria must be held to account for their crimes against the Syrian people.