Remarks to the press by Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, following the UN Security Council consultations on the situation in Syria
V.Churkin: I think it was a good discussion. First of all, we expressed our high appreciation of the work of JIM (Joint Investigative Mechanism). We think that they performed their task very professionally, thoroughly according to the mandate. They had a very difficult challenge and they did what they could. It's a highly technical report, I understand it was issued today and our experts had a very close look at it and will continue studying the report. But there are some question marks. Maybe I used sort of a figure of speech when I said that clearly there is a smoking gun, we know that chlorine most likely has been used. That was already the finding of the (OPCW) Fact-Finding Mission before. But there are no fingerprints on the gun. There are a number of questions which have to be clarified before we accept all the findings of the report, and their conclusions, which are sometimes formulated in a way which does not give the impression of full confidence that those conclusions are entirely accurate.
So, we'll be discussing a kind of product which can be produced now by the Security Council and then we'll be discussing what to do next. I think what I would share, the conclusion, the point which was made by some colleagues in the course of the discussion that JIM has played a useful role and even though there were some situations which need to be studied and causing concern and condemnation, overall it has been a useful tool, so I think one possibility will be looking at strengthening JIM and continuing its mandate for a time we'll have to agree on.
And of course, another very important aspect of the report is that it did confirm that ISIL has used chemical weapons in Syria — now, we know that not only in Iraq but also in Syria — ISIL has used chemical weapons. We are disappointed that we wasted a considerable amount of time, as far as the problem of the use of chemical weapons by terrorists is concerned. As you know, there was a Russian-Chinese draft resolution in the Council to intensify and strengthen our capacity to deal with the threat of terrorist use of chemical weapons in that part of the world. For politicized reasons it was not accepted, but we think that now, if we discuss the extension of the mandate of JIM, that would provide us a good opportunity to strengthen the hand of the Security Council and the United Nations to deal with the threat of chemical weapons use by terrorists.
Q: Proposed resolution would be to extend the mandate of JIM and not sanction…
V.Churkin: This is a possibility. You know, we have started our discussions. There is nobody to sanction in the report which was issued. It contains no names, it contains no specifics, as I say, there are no fingerprints. We have to behave professionally. You know, I think it would be a relief to us frankly if the report said something definitive, but if we are to be professional we need to question all the conclusions, all the analysis of the report — and if we do that, clearly there are some question marks and we had a very good exchange with Ms.Gamba, because she spoke first, and I made my remarks and then actually one of the members of the Council suggested that she respond to my remarks, so it took her 30 minutes to respond to my remarks. It was a very serious conversation. Again, our questions do not aim at undercutting in any way the effectiveness and the usefulness of JIM and the high quality of their work. We are fully in support of their activities. So we will see what decision the Security Council is going to make next.
Q: So you think there is a need for different mandate?
V.Churkin: Well maybe, as I say, the mandate is not strong enough as far as terrorism is concerned. That part of the mandate can be strengthened, maybe some other things too, but we have not started discussing it yet.
Q: You don't think the report is enough for the SC to impose sanctions on Syria?
V.Churkin: Frankly, I don't, but, of course, we continue to analyze the report. There are two cases which they suggest is the fault of the Syrian side. We have very serious questions. I think with the exchange with Ms.Gamba it was confirmed once again that those are serious questions which need to be answered and I'm very encouraged that the Syrian government has stated that they are prepared to continue to cooperate with JIM and we are going to encourage them to do that.