UN Hearings - Salisbury nerve agent attack

Discussion in 'Shooting the Breeze' started by TheBigShort, Apr 5, 2018.

  1. TheBigShort

    TheBigShort Frequent Poster

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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
    By that reckoning, other evidence would need to be provided that shows Syria still holds, and more imporatnatly, has used CW's in attacks against its people.
    The UN is convinced that CW have been used, but no definitive evidence has been used as to who the perpetrators were.

    Russia submitted a draft resolution to allow for an independent investigation. Just because it didn't include an attribution clause, the US/UK and Fra voted against it.

    Are you suggesting that all independent investigations are pre-conditioned with attribution clauses? You do understand that in the absence of conclusive evidence, or evidence beyond reasonable doubt, that an attribution clause is simply an allegation?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2018
  2. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

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    Please find me the part of the attribution clause that states allegations without evidence are acceptable?

    There is no point in having an investigation for which its results have to be approved by Russia before release. It clearly invalidates it as an independent investigation. Maybe that counts as an independent investigation in a country as corrupt as Russia.

    The standard that you are setting for the investigation is one that is valid for a domestic criminal trial. It is a completely unrealistic standard for a UN investigation in the middle of a war zone, conducted without the full support of the domestic regime and based on past experience, carried out under risk of sniper and mortar fire, and without full and unfettered access to locations.
    No UN investigation could ever hope to achieve the standard you are demanding in those circumstances. The net result will be that regimes will know they can use chemical weapons with impunity if they muddy the waters with little green men and make it difficult for the UN to investigate.
    There is 'reasonable doubt' in criminal trials, and there is 'reasonable doubt' in military investigations.
     
  3. TheBigShort

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    Here is the official log of responses to UN draft resolutions, I cant find anywhere Russia needed to approve of investigation findings before their release.

    https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sc13288.doc.htm

    Granted.
    Nevertheless a high degree of probability would at least be a minimum? You can only achieve that with evidence.
    The attack in Douma took place on 07 April. Without evidence, US coalition proceeded to attack six days later. Dont you think attacking a facility for CW is reckless? Or perhaps they knew there were no CWs?
     
  4. odyssey06

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    It would be reasonable to expect a UN report such as this to also provide the level of evidence used to support the assignment of culpability for the attack. The report wouldn't be just one line naming a particular group but would include the findings used to justify it. The UN would then be in a position to assess both the group accredited with blame and the strength of evidence behind that.

    My understanding is that the Russian proposal would have left the Security Council responsible for selecting the investigators, publishing the report and for accrediting blame - all of which Russia would have a veto over i.e. if it, or any security council member, did not approve of the findings, it could veto its release.
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018...a-chemical-weapons-probe-180410193956669.html

    I assume the targets where chosen for a reason and that the western powers have access to intelligence as to likeliest sources of these weapons - bearing in mind the fog of war. None of the targets seem to have been in built up locations.
    Even if a UN report was furnished with compelling evidence as to the likely source of the attack, there would still be the challenge of how to respond. Obviously it would be better for the chemical weapons to be disposed of without missiles, but if the regime does not comply, then the chemical weapons cannot be left for use by the regime, then I don't see an alternative to the military option.

    I'm not sure of the consequences of a cruise missile strike on a chemical weapons depot as that is not my area of expertise! But from what I can gather, the effects, horrific as they are, seem to be pretty localised. I'm afraid if there were agents of the Syrian regime exposed to their own chemical weapons released during the attacks, I cannot gather any sympathy for them.
     
  5. TheBigShort

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    There in lies the crux of the problem. Should the UN be used, or some 'other' agency?

    That the Western powers have access to intelligience is no vote of confidence - lest we forget Iraq and WMD.

    Nor mine, but one of the (many) reasons for banning CW is their indiscriminate nature when released into the environment.

    Accept there doesnt appear to have been any CW released during the attacks.
    Perhaps the intelligience was wrong (again)?
     
  6. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

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    I'm not sure what other agency would have credibility? We can't call in the Vulcans... who would you suggest?

    A ban is all very well in theory, but it is hard to see how it can be enforced without military action and all its unintended consequences - and I hold the stockpilers of the chemical weapons culpable for that consequences.

    On a smaller scale, the UK police stopped chasing people who stole mopeds for fear of causing crashes during the chase. Consequently thefts of mopeds and moped use in other crimes has shot up.

    This might explain why...

    https://www.ft.com/content/1d0a62fa-40ab-11e8-803a-295c97e6fd0b
    "Chemical weapons experts also point out it is unlikely bombing a chemical weapons storehouse would set off a nerve agent. The components of a nerve agent are usually stored separately, to avoid accidental release... Barzeh is viewed as critical to the Assad regime’s ability to develop and mix the chemicals required to make the deadly weapons that have been such a persistent feature of the seven-year civil war. The other two sites, west of the city of Homs, were storage facilities where the precursor chemicals for the weapons were stored, US officials said."

    The article continues that the destruction of the Barzeh facility means the Assad regime would be unable to produce sarin, but as it is not illegal to possess chlorine (it is to weaponize it), military strikes cannot remove that capability.
     
  7. TheBigShort

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    Exactly, so for what purpose did the US/UK/Fra reject the Russian draft resolution? Because they could veto the findings at the UN?

    So they have chemicals...not chemical weapons?
     
  8. odyssey06

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    Because the report would only be published if the Security Council agreed to publish it, and the chances of Russia not vetoing a report that pinned the blame on the Assad regime is zero.

    For nerve gas like sarin, the chemicals are typically only mixed to form the weapon right before use.
    It is like saying a bullet isn't a weapon because it needs a gun to fire it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_chemical_weapon
    Binary chemical weapons are chemical weapons within the scope of the Chemical Weapons Convention and therefore their production, use and stockpiling is forbidden in most countries, as at least one of the individual chemicals is likely to be a Schedule 1 chemical for which large scale production is forbidden.

    The US strike claimed to target the Syrian facility that refined \ produced the precursor chemicals for nerve agents, and facilities which stored the produced precursor chemicals. If that is true, very little chance of nerve agent being released. Nasty chemicals yes - but no more nasty than say blowing up a factory that produces paint and paint stripper.

    The complexity of nerve gas chemical weapon production, handling and delivery is one of the reasons why any claim that a rebel group is behind a large scale nerve gas attack is not credible (according to the articles I've read over the course of the evening...)
     
  9. odyssey06

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  10. TheBigShort

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    So what authority, agency to use then? You mentioned Vulcans earlier?

    So no actual weapons so?

    Perhaps...or perhaps the 'rebels' came upon stockpiles as they advanced through Syria.
    Certainly they dont appear short of conventional weaponery. The source of which will require other investigations.

    Yes, but attributing blame does not verify, particularly in the face of denial. Im not saying they did or didnt. If they did, then it would be legitimate to target the Assad regime.
    I do find it peculiar that the targetting of Assad on foot of alleged CW has been very limited relative to the stance. Perhaps because of Russia? Iran? Fear of escalation? Or lack of evidence?
     
  11. odyssey06

    odyssey06 Frequent Poster

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    There is no authority agency, which is why the other security council members have taken action outside of the UN in response to war crimes.

    This is like saying a missile isn't a weapon because it hasn't been loaded onto a helicopter yet. Of course they are actual weapons.

    Highly unlikely. Where are the dead Assad soldiers from such weapons if the rebels have stockpiles of it? Why wouldn't they have used them already?
    Why is it only civilians in rebel held areas who are being wiped out by hundreds of documented chlorine gas attacks and some nerve gas attacks?

    There is zero doubt that the Assad regime is responsible for chemical weapons attacks on its own citizens, as I said, there are hundreds of documented chlorine gas attacks by the regime, and the UN has attributed blame to the Assad regime for a nerve gas attack.

    I think (a) Russia (b) fear of escalation. As noted, the UN has already attributed blame to Assad for nerve gas attack in 2017, event though Syria was supposed to have declared and destroyed all its stockpiles of nerve gas under UN supervision.
     
  12. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    The questions to ask are;
    1) Why would Assad use chemical weapons in a war he is winning and risk escalation with the USA/UK/France?
    2) What motivation do the USA/UK/France have here? Nobody who matters cares about the people being killed, or cares enough for that to be the reason they intervene, so what are the looking to get out of this?
    3) What will Syria look like after the war? We know that the only Arab country which was a first world country is now destroyed. We know that they had, by local standards, excellent health and education services and women were treated relatively well and we also know that all of that is gone now. What we don't know is what price the victorious side has agreed to pay to their backer.
     
  13. TheBigShort

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    This is where the problems lie-in. What is the point of the UN, if the UN rules are not adhered too?
    For instance, Russia claims to have evidence that the UK staged the Douma attack

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middl...alleged-chemical-attack-in-syria-staged-by-uk

    This, of course is an outlandish claim - but nevertheless, it raises the burden of proof. Is Russia authorized to attack the UK?

    No its not.

    Obtaining stores of CW is one thing and having the capability to use them is another.

    Yes, good question. How come 'rebel' fighters are not amongst the casualties? Do they flee their positions before the chemical attacks? What point the chemical attack at all then?

    On 7 April 2018, at least 48 people were reportedly killed in a chemical attack in Douma, which resulted in an armed response from the United States, France, and the United Kingdom.[11]On 14 April 2018, the Syrian Army officially declared Eastern Ghouta to be free of militants, securing it under government control

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khan_al-Assal_chemical_attack

    In May 2013 Carla Del Ponte UN Chief Prosecutor accused the Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons


    There is no doubt that chemical weapons have been used, there is some doubt to the perpetrators.
     
  14. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    When neither side can be trusted to be telling the truth then one must ask "Cui bono"?
     
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  15. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    If you're talking about the technical capability to deploy a chemical weapon, the technology to do so has been around for about 3000 years, the Chinese being early proponents. The use of artillery shells to deploy nerve agents goes back to WW2, and is really basic technology.
     
  16. Purple

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    The British used biological weapons on the Native Americans. The Americans used chemical weapons in Vietnam.
    The chemical in question in Syria is ammonia but ammonia is used as a disinfectant and for cleaning in many places in the Middle East so the theory outlined by Robert Fisk may to correct. Note that Fisk didn't say that's what happened, he just outlined what the senior doctor in the local hospital said.
     
  17. TheBigShort

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    Thanks for that, I kind of assumed it was basic enough. Perhaps to elaborate - having the capability to use them, effectively, is another thing. As in, the question was put, "where are the dead Assad soldiers from such weapons if the rebels have stockpiles of them"?

    Perhaps to launch CW against Syrian Army (with the effect of killing soldiers) is tricky?

    But more so, the use of CW is to lose the high moral ground in the eyes of the international community. Perhaps this is why all the CW attacks so far, it is disputed who the perpetrators are. That is why resolutions that propose investigations that return inconclusive evidence but still attribute blame are being blocked at the UN?
     
  18. Purple

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    For me the question is why use Chemical Weapons and risk a reaction from those backing the other side when you are winning without using them?
     
  19. TheBigShort

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    I agree, it makes no sense. Which brings us back to Salisbury. None of it makes sense that Russia would go to such lengths to kill a former spy that they could have killed in a Russian prison, or killed in the UK with a bullet. The details of that whole affair are extremely watery and contradictory.
    Underlying all of it, is perhaps, the intent to fixate the publics attention on the dangers and use of CW in order to push through an ulterior policy - namely regime change in Syria.

    We have been here before;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_Dossier
     
  20. Leo

    Leo Moderator

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    Yep, just a simple pressurised vial in a conventional artillery shell is all it takes, accuracy isn't an issue.

    True though, effectiveness is another matter entirely. The use of chemical weapons now is more for their psychological impact on the broader population rather then eliminating a small pocket of people. Their effectiveness in that scenario is difficult to measure and subjective. Where both sides are blaming each other it becomes even less clear.

    An alternative use for a chemical strike would be to quickly clear an area or facility without causing much in the way of physical building/ infrastructure damage. I doubt that could be a viable explanation here though.