UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council should make sure that the people allegedly responsible for chlorine attacks in Syria are brought to justice, Russia's U.N. ambassador said Wednesday.
Vitaly Churkin said council members need to look at the best way to do that, including a legally binding resolution as one option.
"There are ideas — not yet on the table, but floating around," Churkin told reporters after a closed-door briefing by the new acting U.N. disarmament chief Kim Won-soo on efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.
The United States has been promoting Security Council action to assess blame for alleged chlorine attacks, which Syrian activists and doctors say have been increasingly used in recent weeks.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the global chemical weapons watchdog based in The Hague, Netherlands, has condemned the use of chlorine in Syria as a breach of international law. But the OPCW does not have a mandate to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons.
In its latest report, the OPCW said a fact-finding team would visit Syria to look into recent allegations of attacks using toxic chemicals. Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the team had arrived and would visit areas that the two parties agreed on.
The United States has been pressing for "an accountability mechanism" to attribute blame and has been discussing council action with the Russians and other council members.
A Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private, said there is no single view yet on how best to achieve accountability. The diplomat said Russia favors a weaker approach while Western council members are insisting on a resolution that puts accountability under the Security Council, in consultation with the OPCW.
Churkin said he told the council Wednesday that "in our view frankly, we should think about something a little bit more pragmatic and effective in accomplishing the goal of making sure the possible perpetrators of chlorine use are not going to go unpunished."