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Kerry Says Syria Use of Chemicals UNdeniable - So Why's UN Team There?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 26 -- US Secretary of State John Kerry declared Monday afternoon that Syria's use of chemical weapons is "undeniable." State Department text here.

  One wonders then, what the UN inspectors are doing there.

  Kerry quoted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that the UN team will only make findings whether chemical weapons were used, not by whom. Kerry says the use is already clear. So, again, what are the UN inspectors doing there?

  Inner City Press asked Ban's associate spokesperson Farhan Haq if Ban would ask to be notified before any US cruise missile, since there are UN staff in the country. Haq called it speculative -- but is it? After Kerry's statement Monday?

  Haq said the UN will not engage in speculative comment. But it's not speculative. UK foreign minister William Hague, for example, that morning said on the radio that military action on Syria without UN Security Council approval "would be legal, I would argue."

  Hague did not specify under what legal theory: self-defense under UN Charter Article 51? Retaliation or retribution?

  Haq said the UN is still trying to put together the Geneva Two talks. But that no longer seems to be the US' interest. Inner City Press' question of whether Ban would at least seek notification before a missile strike, since there are UN staff members inside Syria, went unanswered.

  On a second round, Inner City Press asked Haq whether Ake Sellstrom has any mandate to say WHO used chemical weapons, and how his findings will be conveyed. Haq first confirmed that "responsibility" is not in Sellstrom's mandate.

  But then, after a pause, Haq added something, an If-Asked, about the team constructing "an evidenced based narrative." Every story has a plot. Watch this video of the Q&A. Watch this site.


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