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10 September 2013 - Syria / Chemical weapons

Press conference by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Since the Damascus chemical massacre on 21 August, we’ve constantly pursued two objectives: punishment of those responsible and deterrence, so that they can’t do it again. Our considered, firm approach has allowed us to get support from a growing number of states and influence certain positions. Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Minister took a step in this direction, calling for – I quote – “the Syrian authorities not only to agree to put their chemical weapons stockpile under international control and then have it destroyed, but also to become a full member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons”.

This position has today been supported, among others, by China. We welcome this new position with interest, but also with caution. We don’t want it to be used as a diversionary tactic. This is why, after discussing it with the President, we have decided to take the initiative. So France will present a resolution to this effect to the United Nations Security Council, and the procedure will be begun this very day. The text will be examined and, if need be, amended by our partners and by the Security Council.

Very specifically, France will today propose to its Security Council partners a draft resolution under Chapter VII aimed at making its ideas an immediate reality. What ideas?

— Firstly, condemning the 21 August massacre committed by the Syrian regime;

— Secondly, demanding that the regime immediately shed full light on its chemical weapons programme, place it under international control and allow it to be dismantled;

— Thirdly, putting in place a full mechanism for the inspection and monitoring of its obligations, under the aegis of the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons;

— Fourthly, providing for extremely serious consequences in the event of Syria violating its obligations;

— Fifthly, finally, punishing the perpetrators of the 21 August chemical massacre in the international criminal justice system.

It’s on the acceptance of these specific conditions that we’ll judge the credibility of the intentions expressed yesterday. The Syrian people have suffered too much; we won’t let ourselves be dragged into delaying tactics, so we must have rapid results. France wants to act in good faith to ensure that a firm, specific and verifiable response to the Syrian chemical threat can finally be found, with the two objectives we’ve had from the outset – punishment and deterrence – and still the same method: well-considered firmness.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU