Remarks to the Press by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia after Arria-formula meeting of UNSC member states "Implementation of UNSCR 2118: OPCW FFM Report on Douma"
Q: Ambassador, what was the result of the meeting? Did you find a new consensus?
A: The turnout of the meeting was tremendous. The interest is immense. It is for the first time in a while that I see such interest of Ambassadors in an Arria-formula meeting. Apart from Security Council PRs, there are many other Ambassadors. The discussion was very interested. As you know, the issue is very hot.
Q: The discussion was about the past, about what has happened until now. However, the OPCW says that the Syrian government has not shared all the information. What would you say to that?
A: We are not talking about the Syrian chemical program and its finalization. We argue about it when we discuss Syrian chemical dossier at the Security Council. We say that this chapter should be closed and that the Syrian government provided all chemical evidence that it possessed. Anyway, we did not discuss that today. What we discussed is a particular episode, which is crucial for the Syrian chemical file. Is is the incident in Douma.
During discussion we provided evidence that suggests that with high probability the FFM OPCW report on the Douma episode that came out recently was fabricated. That is the major issue. We do not just outrightly say this, we have evidence that we came here to share. And it is not only us, there are personalities and organizations that question the outcomes of the FFM OPCW Douma report. Among them are very serious people, for instance, the names on the list of the “Courage Foundation”. You also read articles at the Wikileaks. These questions are left unanswered. We simply say we need to discuss it, but we are denied a mere opportunity to discuss these issues thoroughly and reasonably.
Q: You invested a lot to discredit the OPCW and to disqualify the results of the investigation in Douma.
A: I would disagree with the statement. We were not trying to discredit or disqualify it. We questioned it. We want integrity and authority of the OPCW to restore. It was seriously undermined by the methods which OPCW investigators used. We have been speaking about non-compliance with the “chain of custody” for a long time by now. I would not call it discrediting.
Q: However, it is proved that 1300 people died because of a chemical attack in Ghouta.
A: Look, today we discussed one particular episode, which is the Douma report. If we know the truth about Douma, I am sure we will know the truth about other episodes, including Khan Shaykhun and earlier episodes.
Q: Why didn’t you make the same effort in the case with Ghouta, where there is evidence that 1300 people died because of that attack?
A: You are trying to divert me from our today’s discussion. As I said, ley’s do one thing at a time. We were focused on Douma today. Let’s do it with Douma first. We are afraid that if we work with these methods, like they do on Syria’s chemical file, that would lead us to very grave consequences.