Remarks by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the Joint Press Conference with the Permanent Representative of Syria, Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh, on new attempts to cover up the OPCW activities regarding the alleged incident in Douma in 2018
You know the reason why we called this press conference. We do not recognize the report that has been released [by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team], and we do not recognize the IIT itself. We do not support this structure. Its members are not even chemists. Look at the irony of this. They are legal prosecutors appointed to rubber-stamp fake reports. From its very establishment, the main purpose of the IIT has apparently been to whitewash the illegal acts of aggression against Syria in April 2017 and 2018. Instead of conducting genuine investigations, this team of so-called “experts” merely reduced itself to retranslating ungrounded accusations of some states. As for the methodology, the investigations by the OPCW Technical Secretariat are often based on the information from open sources without even getting to the site of events that they analyze. Their conclusions cannot stand any criticism and abound in false assertions which are put forward without any respect to the main principle of OPCW investigations, the chain of custody, that has not been observed in all investigations that were conducted recently.
After playback of the multimedia piece:
I think the video speaks for itself. I do not know what else we can add that was not answered… It was terrible, and it still is. A terrible and unprecedented hoax that was staged with the willing help of OPCW Technical Secretariat and personally DG Arias. I listened to him today. He spoke at length, but I did not hear a single serious answer to the many questions that we asked. It was like a blind talking to a deaf. That was my feeling today. It concerns not just DG Arias, but also our Western colleagues, who will not listen to any arguments. And they do not need to, because their picture of events is clear they have now the proof of seal by the reports of the OPCW Technical Secretariat. The case is closed.
Q: What particular consequences will this last IIT report entail for Syria?
A: I do not know what will happen next. Our partners in the Security Council are very inventive, I know it. What they have in mind is not for me to judge. They did not share it with me. But whatever happens next will be based on a hoax report. You have to understand that.
Q: Two days ago I think a senior Russian official on the occasion of the speech given by C.Powell in the Security Council on 6 February 2003, called for a follow-up investigation on the campaign of deceit that led to the invasion of Iraq. How will you go ahead with this call? Are you serious about investigating crimes and atrocities committed against the Iraqi people by the US invasion?
A: There are many things in this world left uninvestigated. And of course, the Iraqi hoax was never properly investigated. Nobody paid real responsibility for the crimes committed in Iraq. And I shall not today be explaining to you why. To think that there will be something like a tribunal on the Iraqi war would be a little bit unrealistic. People are busy with other things these days. But the questions remain. There are so many crimes committed which are pretended to be nonexistent at all, as if nothing had happened. This is the hypocrisy of the policies of some of our partners, including here in the Security Council.
Q: Ambassador, while we have you, will we see peace in Ukraine in 2023?
A: We all hope for peace. And I hope that when this arms build-up and this madness about it, which we will discuss tomorrow at the Security Council briefing, will stop; and when those who promote it will stop their proxy war against us with the help of poor Ukrainians who are dying for them; and when they are realistic in heeding our concerns, which we very clearly stated from day one; then I think the prospects for peace will be nearer. So far, unfortunately, I don’t see any readiness on the other side to engage in anything.
Q: Can you remind us what those concerns are?
A: We said it from the very beginning that what was happening in Ukraine was a security issue to us. We want Ukraine to demilitarize and denazify. And we want to make sure that no threats are proceeding from their territory to the Russian Federation. These were announcements that were made officially at the very beginning of that crisis.
Q: The OPCW previously reported on chemical weapons being used by rebel forces in Syria, do you think that those reports by the OPCW are also a hoax?
A: I think I can answer why they chose the Douma report. It’s not a difficult guess. [They chose it] because they prepared it for long. They wanted it to be something with which they could whitewash their aggression in April 2018. It was difficult, but they made it. Congratulations.
But I mean, this whole thing is stitched with such a thick thread that you can see it with your naked eye, in every finding of that report. So it is clear why they were not rushing to conduct investigations or make reports on incidents that you [Syria] were dutifully reporting to hem. And I remember those cases very well. Now that’s all piling up in the Technical Secretariat without any answer, without any initiative to investigate.
Statement of H. E. Bassam Sabbagh at the UNSC Meeting on the “Chemical File” in Syria 07/02/2023
Vassily Nebenzia’s Statements at the UNSC Briefing on the Syrian Chemical File