Chemical weapons - Q&A - Excerpts from the daily press briefing (12 September 2018)

Q- On September 14, 2013, the United States and Russia agreed on a plan to eliminate chemical weapons. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of that agreement, how do you assess its implementation? Does this agreement remain important to the resolution of the Syria conflict?

A- The 2013 Russian-American agreement endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2118 required the Syrian regime to destroy all of its chemical weapons stockpiles. It was soon undermined by the discovery, in 2014, that Syria was continuing to use chemical weapons, even though it had announced the complete destruction of its arsenal.

We believe that Syria has retained clandestine capabilities. The OPCW has continually underscored its doubts as to the sincerity of the initial Syrian statement about its stockpiles, made in 2013 in connection with this agreement.

The responsibility of the Syrian armed forces and security forces in multiple cases of chemical weapons use leaves no doubt. The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) confirmed their responsibility for the use of chlorine on three occasions, and once for the use of sarin.

We regret that on three occasions, Russia opposed UN Security Council draft resolutions sanctioning Syria for the violation of its commitments, and that it also opposed the renewal of the JIM mechanism, depriving us of an instrument that is vital to fact-finding and the attribution of responsibilities in Syria.

France will continue to enforce red lines with respect to the use of chemical weapons, in close cooperation with its closest partners. As Jean-Yves Le Drian noted, the proven, verified, lethal use of these weapons will trigger the same consequences as last April.