A reported attack using chemical components in Syria may have violated international law and has led to warnings from two powerful nations that such deeds should not go unpunished. US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond both released statements within a week of each other calling for an investigation into the use of chlorine by the Syrian regime.
“The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that the [Bashar] Assad regime used chlorine as a weapon again… We are looking very closely into this matter and considering next steps,” said Kerry. Yet despite the stern warning, US spokesperson Jen Psaki admitted that nothing could happen until the reports are verified and even then it was unclear what the world would do.
“We’ll obviously have discussions with our partners, and I don’t have any predictions for what it will mean and what the consequences would be if the allegations are confirmed,” said Psaki in comments released by the State Department. She also acknowledged that chlorine is not an official “chemical weapon” as defined by the OPCW.
The specific consequences aside, the US and UK both made it clear that something should be done if the regime did indeed use chlorine as a weapon.
“What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention,” said Kerry last week. “The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism.”
Hammond echoed Kerry’s concerns four days later on Monday in a statement posted to the UK government website. “The UN Security Council adopted a resolution this month condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. The use of chemicals by the Assad regime as a weapon against his own people not only breaches international law, but also violates previous Security Council resolutions and the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Syria acceded…
“The UK, along with international partners, remains committed to ensuring that those responsible are held to account.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 23, 2015)