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US Speaks On Use Of Chlorine in Douma in Syria After OPCW Report in UNSC Guterres Bans Press From

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR Letter PFT Q&A

UNITED NATIONS GATE, January 23 – Five hours before the UN Security Council was set to meet on chemical weapons in Syria on January 8, from the Hague the Organzsation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons issued this: "On 24 November 2018, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) received information pertaining to an allegation of chemical weapons use in Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic, and began monitoring the situation. The Director-General of the OPCW, H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, informed OPCW Member States of the allegation and invited all parties that may have information to share it with the OPCW Technical Secretariat.  In early December, an advanced team was deployed to Syria to collect further information.  Since then, consultations with the Syrian authorities have been on-going. The OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) deployed in early January to further establish facts regarding the allegation. The FFM continues to independently collect and analyse information and will report its findings to States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. All measures continue to be taken to ensure the safety and security of OPCW experts and personnel involved." Now on March 7 the US State Department through its deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino says, "The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) released its final report on March 1, 2019, regarding its investigation into chemical weapons use in Douma, Syria, on April 7, 2018.  The report concluded that there were reasonable grounds that chlorine was used as a chemical weapon in the attack.  The FFM found that the weaponized chlorine was not manufactured at the sites, as alleged by the regime, and that it is possible that the chlorine was released by cylinders that had been dropped from the air, as indicated by their condition and surroundings.  The conclusions in the FFM report support what the United States determined in our assessment of the attack last April - that the regime is responsible for this heinous chemical weapons attack that killed and injured civilians.  The Assad regime’s use of chlorine as a chemical weapon is a violation of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which it is a party, as well as UNSCR 2118.  The United States commends the FFM for its independent and impartial work undertaken in difficult and dangerous circumstances. We also welcome the full implementation of OPCW’s mandate to identify perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The victims of this barbaric attack and their families deserve justice and this is an important step in holding those responsible to account.  Further, the United States rejects the efforts of the Assad regime and its supporters – Russia chief among them - to sow disinformation about alleged chemical weapons attacks.  We remain deeply concerned about such disinformation.  As noted in our own assessment in April 2018, after the CW attack in Douma, the regime falsely accused opposition groups of perpetrating the chemical weapons attack in Douma; and regime and Russia forces delayed inspectors from entering Douma in an expedited manner with appropriate access consistent with their mandate.  Unfortunately, this is just the latest case where chemical weapons use in Syria has been confirmed by the FFM, an impartial outside investigator. Once again, the United States calls upon the Assad regime to fully cooperate with the OPCW, verifiably destroy its remaining chemical weapons program and completely disclose its activities related to chemical weapons. These are all obligations Syria accepted when it became party to the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, but has failed to honor.  The United States continues to condemn the use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anyone, under any circumstances. Those who resort to the use of chemical weapons must be held to account.  We call on all responsible nations to help us bring an end to the use of chemical weapons." On January 23, OPCW announced a contribution by Norway, which is running for a UN Security Council seat against Ireland and Canada (which have yet, it seems, to have made similar OPCW contributions). Inner City Press, even roughed up and still banned from entering the UN by SG Antonio Guterres now 203 days, is covering the race, and Guterres' jobs move plan, here. Here's from the OPCW announcement: "The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), H.E. Mr Fernando Arias, met with the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, H.E. Mr Audun Halvorsen, during a visit to OPCW Headquarters in The Hague today.  The Director-General and the State Secretary discussed progress in the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), as well as the June 2018 decision by the States Parties to address the threat from chemical weapons use.  With reference to that decision, and in accordance with the Programme and Budget decision of the OPCW for 2019, the State Secretary announced a voluntary contribution of €100,000 from Norway to the Trust Fund for Syria Missions.  He remarked: “Norway has always been a strong supporter of the work of the OPCW to keep the world free of chemical weapons. This is now more important than ever. This grant will contribute to the identification of the perpetrators of chemical weapons use in Syria, and, hence, contribute to increased security and diminishing human suffering in Syria.”  The discussions further focused on the implications of the recent Fourth Review Conference for OPCW’s future activities, and the expansion of the Organisation’s laboratory capabilities through the construction of a Centre for Chemistry and Technology.  The Director-General thanked the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs for the contribution and expressed: “The work of the OPCW is sustained by the humanity’s desire to live in a world free of chemical weapons and underpinned by the support of State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. I want to express my thanks to Norway for its long-standing and staunch commitment to verifiably eliminating chemical weapons.'" When the Presidency of the UN Security Council was taken over by the Dominican Republic on January 2 its José Singer held a press conference to take questions. But it was only from the media NOT banned by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. And in the mere seven questions taken there was not one about anything in Africa, which makes up over 60% of the Council's agenda. Nothing on the expulsion of Guterres' envoy Nicholas Haysom from Somalia. Nothing on the disenfranchisement of 1.2 million in the DR Congo, where the UN has (mis) spent billions of dollars. Nothing on Cameroon, or Burundi, or Gabon or Togo. Nothing on the Dominican Republic's neighbor Haiti. It took a mere 22 minutes, the shortest and most vacuous ever, including Singer's opening statement. The set-aide first question was not on Africa; there was a question about the UN Charter and a media invitation to visit Gaza. Guterres, who had roughed up and banned Inner City Press as it inquired into his failure in Cameroon, where human lives were exchanged for Budget Commitee favors, has deployed his UN Global Censor Alison Smale to try to ensure that his failures and conflicts of interest can't be asked about. They are asked about by Inner City Press in writing, and not answered - no answers from Spokesmen Farhan Haq or Stephane Dujarric today. But they cannot stop reporting. An hour earlier - in a ceremony which lasted longer than the correspondents' questions - when the five new UN Security Council members joined for two year terms on January 2, the foreign minister of the Dominican Republic, Council President for January, gave a longish speech in Spanish which while stressing Latin American issued did not mention next door Haiti. There, the UN brought cholera which killed at least 10,000 people; UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has not raised or paid in restitution any significant amount. Whether this issue gets address during January, or even in the next two years, remains to be seen. In the ceremony, presided over by outgoing member Kazakhstan, the Permanent Representatives of Germany, Indonesia, South Africa and Belgium carried their flags forward and planted them, with Indonesia and then South Africa waving their flags. Inner City Press covered this process in previously, for example two years ago with Bolivia, before Guterres amid Inner City Press questions about his failure on Cameroon and links with UN briber China Energy Fund Committee President had Inner City Press roughed up and banned since. This should be addressed - watch this site.  A month ago, when Cote d'Ivoire Ambassador Kacou Houadja Léon Adomu held a Press-less press conference on December 3, he listed as Africa issues to be address during the month South Sudan, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and the Sahel. No one present asked about Burundi much less Cameroon, and Inner City Press was unable, being banned without hearing or appeal. Kacou Houadja Léon Adomu would not answer on North Korea human rights if his country will sign the draft letter for a Council meeting, nor how it would stand in any procedural vote. Many of the questions could have been addressed by just looking at the Program of Work. Inner City Press has more questions - watch this site. Troublingly, the UN allows in Morocco state media, which got a question from its perspective. Inner City Press still banned from the UN without any due process or appeal gets questions answered by the International Monetary Fund which it covers, on Yemen and Sri Lanka. At the IMF briefing, spokesman Gerry Rice was asked about US sanctions on Venezuela gold sales. In New York, Ambassador Ma reiterated that China is against all unilateral sanctions. So what will the Council be doing when the new US sanctions on Iran kick in? Watch this site - we continue the UN as actively as anyone. Last month Bolivia's Ambassador Llorenti talked up his upcoming field trip to DR Congo, like the Security Council visit he led to Haiti, which Inner City Press went on and reported from. But now that Guterres for his own reasons has had Inner City Press roughed up and banned since July 3, Llorenti's Mission has yet to respond to this, regarding (now) October 11: "find myself banned from even entering the UN, since 3 July 2018 when I was physically ousted while staking out the Fifth Committee meeting from the Vienna Cafe area, at the invitation of member states on the Committee. I would like to request that you / your Mission ensure that I can enter the UN to cover and hopefully ask a question at your Program of Work press conference tomorrow, and after that to cover / stakeout such meetings at the October 11 consultations on Western Sahara / MINURSO, which is almost impossible to cover without being in the building. As you may know, there are numerous Morocco state media given office space and resident correspondent status by DPI under USG Alison Smale, who has refused to answer a single one of my 10 e-mails. They will cover the Western Sahara meeting, from their perspective. I believe I have a similar right to continue this issue.
Responsible are Chef de Cabinet Viotti (who was called by the Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press) and/or DSG Amina Mohammed. Or, pending that, please have the Mission bring me in to these meetings. The only written communication I have received from the UN is this letter from USG Smale, here." We'll have more on this, (well) before October 11.  Back on September 4 when US Ambassador Nikki Haley held a press conference about her Security Council residency, her second, of the 14 questions called on by the US Mission to the UN not one was about anything in Africa or even about UN reform. This happened as 60% of the UN's work is in Africa, the UN is caught up in sexual abuse and harassment scandals and while Inner City Press, which covers UN abuse and has uncovered Secretary General Antonio Guterres' inaction in Cameroon and the African business links of his son Pedro Guimarães e Melo De Oliveira Guterres has been banned from the UN for 63 days by Guterres, prospectively to miss access to the General Assembly High Level week for the first time in 11 years.
   When Inner City Press was roughed up while it covered the UN Budget Committee and a plan by Guterres to move jobs including from New York to Mexico City, it was covered by Fox News which one assumes the US Mission reads. Inner City Press did not reach out for any assistance from the Mission, holding to the principle that the UN should treat journalists fairly without a state sponsor.
   Nothing improved. In fact, Guterres' British head of Global Communications Alison Smale issued a letter banning Inner City Press, dredging up old discredited complaints from Morocco and her bitter deputy. Still, nothing from Haley or the US Mission.
   Finally on August 24, after Inner City Press learned from a non-US source of President Trump's plan for a meeting about drugs on September 24, Inner City Press formally raised the matter to Haley's spokesman, a holdover from the Samantha Power days, John Degory. He indicated he heard what was said.

  But access was not arranged to Haley's September 4 press conference, at which after Haley to her credit at least raised South Sudan in her opening remarks Degory tried to give a question to among others a retired travel agent and a barely intelligible resident correspondent from Pakistan who beyond assisting in Inner City Press' eviction spent the past weekend tweeting that tennis star Serena Williams and her outfits are “pathetic.” That's today's UN.


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