tv World Apart with Oxana Boyko RT October 3, 2013 1:29pm-2:01pm EDT
and a team of international and factories arrived in syria on tuesday to auschwitz see the destruction of the country's chemical weapons herculean task indeed in the meantime questions remain about when and where and by whom some of those weapons may have been used and to try and answer some of them now i'm joined by i will again be u.n. high representative for disarmament affairs and i greatly appreciate your being on the show thank you for us and your son and happy to be here well i know that your team of experts just wrapped in the other trip to syria and as far as i understand that to get down to six various neighborhoods where chemical weapons were allegedly used now it seems that this investigation is attracting far less media attention and is certainly being conducted in their rather different geo political environment compared to the investigation of the incident i wonder if it was any easier for your colleagues to do that job this time around i think what happened is
that they were of course in damascus at the time the incident happened and they were investigating three incidents that we had agreed with the syrian government would be investigated and that is when i last saw that which happened in march and two additional incidents and they were investigating those when who to happened and i had flown to damascus to ensure that the syrian government would agree to us investigating as well the hotel incident because that was not part of the agreement earlier made so they did agree to the team deployed to the two neighborhoods where chemical weapons were alleged to have been used and what happened then is that the team was so exhausted after the end of the very five six very intensive days in forty degrees plus temperatures to go into the rebel held areas to interview victims to visit hospitals talk to first responders health care workers visit sites that it was necessary to really give them. to pull them out and we promised the
syrian government at the time that they would go back as quickly as possible which they did they did the report on the east orcus twenty one incident they went back wrote the reports and they basically came back and of course none of us could have anticipated the dramatic development of the agreement between the russian federation and the united states in geneva and so the visit no started under very different premises really than when they went in the first time now you mentioned how difficult it was for your colleagues to work on the ground and i reported extensively from syria actually accompany u.n. inspectors several times on various trips around damascus and to offer serious it is in serious i can certainly understand how physically demanding and psychologically stressful that can be but i also would like our viewers to understand that when we talk about the u.n. investigation what we actually mean is a group of u.n. inspectors driving at any particular side spending there anywhere between two and
maybe five to six hours and in that very short period of time they have to inspect the side they have to collect the samples they have to talk to the witnesses and survivors and i'm sure nobody does that professional is but i have to ask you. how limiting do you think are the time and security constraints on the overall quality of collected evidence you are absolutely right and you've had a first hand view of it but what happened is that first of all we had to negotiate with the government of a cease fire for the time that the team would spend in the field with with the rebel held territories and then we had to make an agreement with the rebels to basically say look we need to talk to victims we need to first to care respond to this we need to talk to officials and we also need the space to do it in every single person who was interviewed was filmed photographed and all of their were recordings made so that we had a complete case history. then there was blood drawn there was hair and urine
samples and also if there was a site the possible environmental evidence the team was taken there and they took environmental samples all of this is detailed of course in the report but what is very important is that there had to be a chain of custody and the chain of custody means that the inspectors on the team the investigation team took the samples took the case history recorded it all and make sure that never left their sight you are right that it was very demanding to do it in a very short time as far as i understand there and absolutely no concerns no criticism about the chain of custody for this sample of this time around and i know that syrian officials were accompanying. your team all the way to the hague but i think there is there is a lot of criticism of the cigars to the actual methodology that you just mentioned and if i can bring out one particular case i know that in in ghouta your team had to collect environmental samples in
a few very different areas and was good and in is good and you also collected human samples for all the survivors that the opposition pre-selected for you and as it falls from the report which is now in public domain and none of the environmental samples that your team collected in the west good to tested positive for sarin and yet but you might every human sample that you collected there tested positively how would you explain the inconsistency because it's not that dressed in their report but i'm sure the they asked for its being the professionals that they are would have thought about this discrepancy i think what we always said is that the team of what actually present the facts and i think the facts are there for everyone to see they collected i believe thirty environmental samples in the ghouta incident or incidents i should say and also they collected about eighty environmental by. medical samples from from the victims and people who had been
infected they did prove that they were and was evident in the samples they found but on the other hand if they did not find sarah in the environmental samples it just testifies to the honesty of the reinspection that this saying this is what we found this is what we took but on the other hand what you also pointed out is this they had four site visits to the various sites they did go in four different times but of course that's only a small area that they covered so in a way it was a limited exposure also time boned because you will recall the first day they had were under sniper fire so they had to return exchange the car and then went in again which further curtailed the time but it wasn't to say it was used on a massive scale all they found is that it was used and there was definite positive proof of sarah news can i just specify how did you reach those conclusions because environmental samples are extremely important and i know that in the report itself
it is stated that on that particular day august twenty first weather conditions would have maximized the potential impact of chemical weapons use so sarin if it was indeed used would have stayed closer to the ground it would have penetrated the lower levels of the building so at least one of the samples i would assume i know the scientists of course would have tested positively and yet none of the samples not of them tested positively for sarin so if you believe that sarin was used in that particular area you know must have rely your judgment on on the human samples is that's right no i basically think that if you read the report the report comes out and says sir and was used and it is also a matter that maybe in the environmental samples they took there was no sarin found but that doesn't mean that sarah it wasn't used it was there in the human samples and so i think that when i explained to you is that there was a limited time if they had had more time to go around maybe they would have found difference. it was
a limited collection that they did but the collection was conclusive and i think it was very comprehensive and so therefore and in the matter of transparency as you mentioned we shared all of these samples with the syrian government they basically were split when they arrived in the hague we facilitated the travel of the syrian officials to the hague because we wanted to have a completely transparent process and that is what the inspectors concluded miskin i think nobody would actually a question the transparency of the whole process the integrity of the team but one possible explanation that other scientists have floated would be that all those people that were supposedly that were telling about how they were sleeping at night and that's rocket had they were brought actually from a different area that they were not. good to but were indeed brought by the all position to somehow change the flow of that investigation is it something to consider is it viable explanation i think that that is i think you can put forward
any suppositions that you want but on the other hand the team did not go into a limited area that was on the let's say one hundred mi just by one hundred meters i think they did go to different sites and i think it is extremely difficult i mentioned to you that eighty different case studies that they made extensive studies off and i think it is not possible to say we brought them all in from different areas to my mind that it's inconceivable anyone can come up with a theory but that does not mean that the theory is correct can i just check in with you because you're obviously a have much larger expertise on this issue would it have been possible for the siren to be used than evaporate in a matter of say five days because certainly we we have no reason to doubt the expertise of the of the team they would have known how to collect the samples and look at the list of samples that they collected and it's indeed very diverse i mean it's a piece of fabric. samples all the various samples that they relied upon and i think it. in collecting environmental samples they had
a certain degree of freedom they could choose whatever they wanted but when it comes to the access to actual survivors they didn't have that freedom those survivors were quote unquote pre-selected by the opposition so again is it conceivable that sarin was used in that particular area but all the traces evaporated in a matter of couple of days it is scientifically not possible for sarah to evaporate in such a short time i think as the report also shows that the syringe was and reached with the stabilizes and stabilizes actually means that that it remains a lot longer in the environment as well as in the human tissue the pure sarin for example evaporates a lot more quickly i do not believe there's a precedent for a team of investigators going in at such a short time after an incident was alleged to have for kurds and actually talking to firsthand to people who were affected and actually seeing the effects on the on
the on the people who lived in that area and those were two different areas it was an easterner vista hotel which is a different ends of damascus as you know in the suburbs as like the metric you opposite so this is the first time the if you actually had an investigation of such an incident such a short time afterwards it's never happened before that i can recall and yet received such a major discrepancy in the findings following from the environmental and human samples can i ask you one more question and something that attracted my attention there's been a lot of reports about a huge dust bowl from. our confirmed use of sarin according to the united nations but what i noticed in the u.n. report is that there is absolutely no mentioning of examining any dad bodies any if we heard a lot of stories about death toll being up to eight hundred people why was it was it because you had no time or simply because you didn't find that important or maybe you didn't have ak. this two dead bodies because certainly dad bodies would
have presented here with. something then let me correct something we have never we have never in the united nations we have never advanced the death toll the death toll numbers come from various non-governmental organizations we in the united nations have never advanced a death toll number we do not have any numbers we do not know how many people died i didn't mean to actually imply that what i was really asking you is whether or not your team has requested any access to dad bodies because surely we know that there were some deaths have your colleagues seen any bodies in either west or is good to have you been able to collect samples from some of that tissues and so on no they didn't tell you why because there were so many victims who were still alive that there was really no need to to exuma bodies and basically take a tissue from them but we had also a complete case history meaning that the victims were able to tell how they were affected what they felt what the symptoms were which is much more powerful than
taking tissue from from me from the body but were you told that all the bodies have already been buried at that point of time because this is obviously a very crucial and political point and that since your team was the only one who had access to that area this was something that was very important to understand the at the actualities of of that attack well i don't agree with your ex on i because as i said the dead body can tell you anything can tell you how the person died can tell you how the person was affected how the person suffered a living person can tell you that and that's the case history that is basically very well documented and that's also preserved and we did not ask for bodies to be assumed that they had been buried simply because that's a muslim tradition to bury people very quickly and as i mentioned it was extremely hot at the time that we were in damascus but at the time when there are so many victims who are life you can tell the story that goes with the samples and the tissues that they took the. no need to make so many bodies well miss cannot have to
contradict here my very limited knowledge of medical science tells me that autopsies are generally considered a much more comprehensive source of information both on the cause of death and watch the body may have been exposed to prior to death than some individual blogger urine samples but we have to take a short break now when we come back the syrian conflict was born out of geopolitics and fueled by it but can it really be resolved through a political solution that's coming up in a few moments on the walls apart. there's a leader so we leave the. bush and you're the play your party there's a good. news that no one is there with the gas that you deserve answers from.
only. welcome back to worlds apart a riyadh discussing syrian chemical does armament with uncle a cane the u.n. high representative for design meant affairs. you've been of it the united nations for so long and i know that in one of your previous capacities you served as the assistant secretary for political affairs dealing with all sorts of conflicts in palestine iraq nepal and clearly politics plays a very important role in any conflict but i wonder given your experience how would you rate syria. in terms of politics international politics a fact in conflict resolution both negatively and positively i think of what has happened is that the syrian conflict has gone on very long it's gone on for two and a half years i think a lot of people have died we just talked about the chemical weapons and the victims
but i think we forget the magnitude of how many people have been killed by conventional weapons it's over one hundred thousand i think the latest figure now is one hundred ten thousand the syrian conflict has created millions of refugees some in two and a half million refugees in neighboring countries which just put a tremendous strain not only on the people in syria but also in the neighboring countries and i must say also on the world community because the world community has largely assisted it's also the humanitarian efforts to help sustain the people who are in camps to help sustain the countries that have been host countries to the refugees and the sheer numbers have really overwhelmed the region and so there was a great impatience about trying to come to a political solution and that it's been a very difficult effort how do you come to a political solution i think in the end it all comes down to an agreement among major powers to an agreement among member states it's an agreement by syria sovereign country a member of the united nations and i'm very encouraged that just in the last three
weeks there has been a resurgent of efforts around this issue and that started actually with the agreement also. in geneva between the russian federation and the united states it started with the accession of syria to the chemical weapons convention and it started with a new momentum towards a political solution so you've basically got three pillars and the three pillars are chemical weapons the second is the political solution and of course a humanitarian solution now it also has to involve the syrian opposition and in order to conduct your investigation on the ground you had to maintain certain context within militarized the position i wonder how did you go about it logistically did you have to rely on. any of the un members to help open those channels of communication with the opposition what happened was that as you know we have a country team a u.n. country team in syria the country to mislocated in damascus they also have some
outlying offices there are providing humanitarian aid and obviously we have a contingent there of security offices and they basically helped us because they have obviously contacts because you can't move around if you want to distribute your insurance supplies if you want to do any work at all in syria these days you have to also have contacts with the opposition so we had help from the country team that is in damascus and that was very much welcome now those contacts with the opposition will be probably even more crucial during the desire moment stage because insuring that corporation would be something extremely important i think there is a certain presumption that then western political community that it is now russia's responsibility to make sure that syria call parades with both you all face the united nations in general and there it is ations is there a similar presumption that those countries who supported the opposition now have to
provide a similar level of call peroration on the part of the rebels to think that the overlying principle here is that we all want to make it happen we all want to make sure that chemical weapon. are no longer existant in syria and that they're being destroyed and i think everyone has to pull along the same vein we're doing our bit together with the organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons we're supporting their inspectors going in but i must say that i don't think there's any one country or any two countries any five countries that are being looked to have a special responsibility if you look at the resolution and the executive council decision of the o.p.c. w. you will see that it is actually syria syria who was it was being told you have to be responsible for ensuring the security you have to be response for destroying the chemical weapons and so that's basically the obligation that's laid down when you exceed to the chemical weapons convention now we know already that syria is having great problems and cannot destroy actually the chemical weapons but on the other hand they will have to be some multilateral assistance or help from major countries
but how that is going to work we don't know yet what miss came the reason i asked those questions this question is because it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a desire moment as technological a technical goal and as armament as a political goal and i think it's easy to see why some countries would be in favor of technological design on land you know the present assad physically doing away with its stockpiles but they may be not so excited about that politically fairing that that would empower his regime so the possibility of a conflict of interest is there now you are somebody who is concerned of a desire a desire moment as being the ultimate objective and let me ask you specifically do you think it is the sole responsibility of syria is syria the only party that is responsible for making sure that this does armament initiative is indeed successful according to the chemical weapons convention yes it is according to reality and to practicalities we know that it cannot be so there is an effort by other member
states to help the effort along and if you look at the security council resolution it's asked the secretary general in consultation with the director general of the. c.-w. to make recommendations to the security council by next monday and then the security council will decide on exactly what will be the mandate there are questions that are as yet unanswered syria has made a declaration of their chemical weapons holdings for stockpiles mixing equipment etc that needs to be verified by the inspectors they will have to be accompanied by security they have to be logistics efforts then there was start the process of how do we actually destroy what's there and with whose help will the done and i think that's just a huge effort and i would not say that that's political political objective is to get rid of the chemical weapons and we will need the help of member states it cannot be really all done by a joint u.n. oversee w. effort i've heard to you being asked several times how your office and the
organization for broad mission of chemical weapons can ensure that syria actually complies with the timetable that is being sad and of the you know the plan of action that will it will be presented with and i know that you sat in the past that as of now there is no mechanism but let me turn that question at around a little bit and ask you whether there is indeed a mechanism to ensure that syria is indeed treated fairly and that indeed if it complies with all the obligations but for some reason misses the very ambitious deadline reaches the middle of two thousand and fourteen and if that happens for reasons that are beyond the control of the syrian government at this point we have to admit there are a lot of unknowns associated with funding expertise security and so on so if indeed syria misses that deadline and again we hear calls of punishing this country for noncompliance will you be able to stand up and defend the design moment process now
this side of government but you know the progress that hopefully will be done in this direction i think works on anyone who looks at those timelines knows that there. extremely ambitious and we also these time months were established without knowing exactly what syria would declare in terms of stockpiles but on the other hand there's another aspect to that in the six when the costly and live remind you that while these timelines were set i think when you look at for example the russian federation and the united states both of these countries had timelines that were stablished under the chemical weapons conventions and both of these deadlines were extended simply because it was physically impossible to destroy the material in that time but did understand you correctly that ass things stand now it is highly possible that syria may indeed miss the deadline even if it puts its vast efforts into into this initiative i can't comment on that i hope it will be applied to hold we will be
a tier two i can't comment on that because that speculation into the future all i can say is that i think everyone realizes it's ambitious now as we discussed there is now a new team of experts on the ground who are now tasked with destroying the production capabilities of the assad government to actually make those chemical weapons and i know that these task is primarily handled by the organization in the hague since you are bound by the called gratian agreement by dan let me ask ask you this question i've read in some media reports that at this point of time it's essentially something that requires a brute force you know just using slash hammers to destroy some of the machinery you know destroying some of the amp to shells and so on is it as simple as that let me correct one misunderstanding first the opus to test with destroying the chemical weapon stockpiles the opposite of that is test with verifying the destruction but they're also test with helping syria draw up
a timeline and the possibility how best to destroy so they give advice but they don't actually carry out the work themselves and the o.p.c. w. has a cooperation agreement it is not part of the you know. nations but there is a cooperation agreement that was concluded in two thousand and one so we do have a very good collaboration and i'm very happy to see that this is continuing with this current effort where we provide a lot of the just extend the security and some other services for the mission of the inspectors to verify the stockpiles so they understand you correctly that at this point no desire amendment process per se has started yet has not they have just started to deploy and i believe they will start the inspection of the sites i think it's the seventh or the eighth of october and so i read early next week it indeed looks like a colossal task but the feeling here in moscow and probably over there in the yard to be u.n. headquarters that it could be done by. of course a genuine political will exists well angela kane the u.n.
high representative for disarmament affairs thank you very much for your time and to our viewers join us again same place same time here are worlds apart. the problem players are they come up very hard to take a lead once again a little longer the club lot has never had sex with the perfect their lives let's play.
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