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After UN's Nuclear Meeting on Syria, Russia Calls It History, Damascus a Campaign

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- Even before the UN Security Council began meeting Thursday afternoon about the Dair Alzour in Syria, China's Deputy Permanent Representative Wang told the Press that “the issue shouldn't be here, it no longer exists.”

A Russian representative called Inner City Press aside and said, “We are only here because we are Council members. The Council is for threats to international peace and security, not for history.”

After Israel bombed Dair Alzour, the facility was destroyed. After the briefing -- and after for example French Ambassador Gerard Araud walked by the media assembled outside without saying anything -- Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari came out.

First he read to the press from former International Atomic Energy Agency director ElBaradei's book, “The Age of Deception,” about Israel's attack. Then he said that even if there were radiation at the site, it could have come from the bombs Israel had used.

Inner City Press asked Ja'afari if he thought the push to have this debate in the Security Council was related to the stalled draft resolution on the crackdown in Syria. Video here.

  Ja'afari said yes, it is an “orchestrated campaign against my country... They try to mobilize all agencies against Syria.” He spoke on (BlackBerry) camera about the European draft resolution, the attempt to put language about the crackdown into the UNDOF resolution (click here for Inner City Press' story on that) and to this “nucear” issues, adding, “they are so polite, they call it implementation of the safeguard agreement.”

Inner City Press asked him, “What's the next move?”

Ja'afari answered, “biological or chemical.” Video here. And then he was gone.

UNDOF exercises: on fire,
Dair Alzour not shown

While Araud refused to speak or answer question, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant spoke to the media. Here is the transcript:

UK Ambassador and Permanent Representative Sir Mark Lyall Grant speaking with reporters on the Security Council Meeting on the IAEA report on Syria nuclear facility, 14 July 2011

A few words about the Security Council this afternoon. It was clearly important that the Security Council did discuss the IAEA report as a result of the Board of Governors decision to submit their findings to the Security Council today. It was important because we must uphold the credibility and integrity of the Safeguards regime and the work of the IAEA and the proliferation treaty more generally.

We heard today a devastating briefing from the Safeguards team of the IAEA from which you could only draw one conclusion: That Syria did have at Dair Alzour, a clandestine nuclear plant, that they tried to conceal the purpose of that plant, that they mislead the IAEA about what the purpose was and they have failed to cooperate effectively with the IAEA in following up the questions that the IAEA put to them about the plant. Therefore, we expect that the Security Council will want to come back to this issue. Syria wrote a letter on the 26th of May to say that it would now cooperate with the IAEA, but the IAEA confirmed that since then there has been no change and there has not been any better cooperation after the letter was written than there was before, and therefore a number of members have said that they would want to be kept informed of whether that cooperation did in fact improve.

Q: Purpose of facility and when SC said it wanted to come back, what more specifically did that mean?

A: Well as I say, I think that Syria has said that it will now cooperate, they said today that there had been no change in the two months since that letter had been written, but that we wanted to be kept informed so when there is a future report to the IAEA, that will come back to the Security Council. I can’t be more specific than that in terms of the timing or how that will come about. In terms of the technical report, I can’t go into details but the clear technical evidence, the very detailed slide show with satellite photographs making it very clear why the IAEA reached the conclusion it did about the purpose of this...

Q: Timing because SC has failed to agree on doing something about the political...

A: No, those who spoke made very clear that the two things are distinct. What we’re talking about here is a clandestine nuclear programme in Syria that has being going for many years. It’s not linked to the current…

Q: Israel bombing something...? Anybody looked into that? That is a piece of a problem?

A: The purpose of today’s debate was about the IAEA report which was on the origins and purpose of the site, not how the site was destroyed.

Q: Same resistance from Russians and Chinese on the nuclear issue as on the political issue in briefing today? What would be the catalyst to bring back to the Council?

A: A number of Member States argued that the IAEA report had not come to any definitive conclusions that the fact that the site had been destroyed was what made it difficult to come to that definitive solutions and therefore did not think it was appropriate for the Security Council to discuss the issue, but the fact is that the Security Council did discuss the issue today and a number of Member States said that they would want to be kept informed so that they could discuss it again if there was not better cooperation from the Syrians authorities in the future.

Q: Meeting without product / result? Not clear about catalyst?

A: No. We did not try to get a product from this meeting. It’s no secret that the Security Council is divided on a number of issues to do with Syria and it is clearly divided on this issue. We saw that in the vote of the Board of Governors. There were a number of members of the Security Council who were also on the Board of Governors on the IAEA who voted against the resolution, there were others who abstained and their position has not changed since the timing of that Board of Governors meeting in Vienna.

* * *

On Syria, UNDOF Vote Delayed, Russia's Blue Text Blended With US, France & UK Want Reference to Unrest

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 28, updated -- The Security Council's resolution on the UN Disengagement Observer Force UNDOF, initially scheduled to be adopted June 28, has been delayed amid whether and how to reflect recent events in Syria.

  A special consulation on the UNDOF resolution began June 28 at 11 am, with a slew of Deputy Permanent Representatives including France's, South Africa's, Bosnia's and Russia's Pankin rushing in.

  When Russia said late on June 23 that they had put their version of the resolution on the UN mission UNDOF “into blue,” some other Security Council members disagreed.

 A full 24 hours later, a Western Council member told Inner City Press that Russia hadn't really put a text into blue, just the “idea of what the Secretariat would have proposed.”

  This Western member predicted that after the June 27 consultations on the American draft, when UNDOF came up for a vote then scheduled for June 28, there would be a procedural vote on Russia's, to declare it not blue, not the first.

  But an expert in Council procedure consulted by Inner City Press disagreed. What Russia did was within the definition of being “in blue,” the expert said and predicted that Russia's draft would have to be voted on first.

  While some questioned Russia's tactic, other defended it as adhering to tradition in terms of “substance if not form.”

On June 27, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Pankin told Inner City Press, “Our text is on the table.” He said that a June 28 vote was possible, but that it did not need to be done before the end of the month.

On June 28 it emerged that UNDOF would not be voted on that morning. Instead, a round of consultations with DPRs was held.

Back on June 24, the Security Council adopted a press statement on Yemen, expressing concern at violence and welcoming the GCC mediation. On Syria, a press statement was blocked by Lebanon, as a presidential statement may now be. The composition of the Council has its effect. Watch this site.

Footnote: meanwhile Inner City Press has his morning published a letter to the editor about Syria strategy from US Under-Secretary for State Judith McHale, click here to view.

Update of 11:35 am -- it's said that the Russian and US texts are blending, with reference to what has happened in UNDOF's Golan Heights area, but others -- "France and the UK," a source tells Inner City Press -- want to refer to "broader Syria."

Update of 12:35 pm -- the argument is that unrest elsewhere in Syria has spread into the UNDOF zone, and that the ceasefire there is being undermined. Consultations continue on the "blended" text.

* * *

On Syria Draft Russia, China & India Won't Engage, S. Africa
Won't Without Them

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- At a UN meeting Thursday about the draft Syria resolution, Russia, China and India said there was no reason to begin word by word negotiation: they overall oppose the resolution. Then the European sponsors tried to reach out to South Africa and Brazil, to see if they would engage in negotiations without the nay-saying three. They were rebuffed.

  As South Africa's Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu put it to Inner City Press on June 3, “We are in solidarity with the E[lected] Ten, we will not go into some cocoon of the Security Council. If they won't negotiate, either will we.”

  Also on June 3, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Pankin asked Inner City Press, “Why a new resolution -- for more bombing?” The reference was to what NATO has done in Libya after Russia and China, along with non veto wielding India, Brazil and Germany, abstained on Resolution 1973.

  The Europeans' draft resolution still refers to a statement by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to which the OIC has objected in a letter it sent to the Security Council president for May, Gerard Araud of France.

At this stage, Inner City Press is putting a copy of the draft resolution online, here. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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