KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes an agreement reached with Russia to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria will hold the perpetrators accountable.
Speaking Thursday in Malaysia, Kerry said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had agreed Wednesday to language of a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would create an investigative mechanism to determine who is responsible for chemical attacks. The current process does not allow investigators to make a finding of accountability.
Kerry said the resolution “will create a process of accountability which has been missing.”
“What we are trying to do is to get beyond the mere finding of the fact that it may have been used and actually find out who used it and designate accountability for its use,” he added
While Russia and the United States have failed to agree on a way to end the Syrian conflict, they did agree on eliminating its declared chemical weapons stockpile. The U.S. has been pressing the Security Council to ensure accountability for an increasing number of alleged chlorine attacks.
Following a chemical weapon attack on a Damascus suburb that killed hundreds of civilians on Aug. 21, 2013 a U.S.-Russian agreement led to a Security Council resolution the following month ordering the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, precursors, and the equipment to produce the deadly agents.
The Syrian government’s support for the resolution and decision to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the global chemical weapons watchdog, warded off possible U.S. military strikes in the aftermath of the attack, which Damascus denied carrying out.
Syria’s declared stockpile of 1,300 metric tons of chemicals has been destroyed, but the OPCW is still investigating outstanding questions about possible undeclared chemical weapons.
Chlorine is not a banned agent used in chemical weapons, like sarin or ricin. But it is toxic and its use in attacks in Syria started being reported last year.
In March, the Security Council approved a U.S.-drafted resolution that condemns the use of toxic chemicals such as chlorine in Syria, and threatens further measures including sanctions in the case of violations.