"I would say to the community of nations, time is short. Let's not spend time debating what we already know. Instead, we have to recognize that the world is watching to see whether we can avert military action and achieve through peaceful means even more than what those military strikes promise," US Secretary of State John Kerry said. (Agencies)
A complete removal of Syria's chemical weapons is possible here, through peaceful means, he said, adding that that will be determined by the resolve of the UN to follow through on the agreement that Russia and the US reached in Geneva.
The agreement clearly said this must be enforceable, it must be done as soon as possible, it must be real, Kerry pointed out. "We need everyone's help in order to see that the Security Council lives up to its founding values and passes a binding resolution that codifies the strongest possible mechanism to achieve the goal, and to achieve it rapidly. We need to make the Geneva agreement meaningful," Kerry said.
"And to make it meaningful in order to eliminate Syria's CW (chemical weapons) programme and to do it with transparency and with the accountability, the full accountability that is demanded here, it is important that we accomplish the goal in New York and accomplish it as rapidly as possible," he said.
"When we said we know what is true, we meant it. And now before I head to New York for the UN General Assembly, we have a definitive UN report strengthening the case and solidifying our resolve. Now the test comes," he said.
"The Security Council must be prepared to act next week. It is vital for the international community to stand up and speak out in the strongest possible terms about the importance of enforceable action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons," Kerry said in a strongly worded statement.
He said the UN report provides "unequivocal" evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad used sarin gas in August. Citing ballistic, medical, photographic and other evidence, he said, "Every single bit of it confirms what we already knew and what we told America and the world."
"The findings in the Sellstrom (UN) report were as categorical as they were convincing. Every single data point -- the types of munitions and launchers that were used, their origins, their trajectory, their markings, and the confirmation of sarin -- every single bit of it confirms what we already knew and what we told America and the world," he said.
"It confirms what we have brought to the attention of our Congress, the American people and the rest of the world," he asserted.
"The UN report confirms unequivocally that chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used in Syria. And despite the regime's best efforts to shell the area and destroy the evidence, the UN interviewed more than 50 survivors -- patients, victims, health workers, first responders," Kerry said.
"They documented munitions and subcomponents. They assessed symptoms of survivors, analyzed hair, urine, blood samples, and they analyzed 30 soil and environmental samples," he noted.
"We, the United States, have associated one of the munitions identified in the UN report, the 122 millimeter improvised rocket, with previous Assad regime attacks. There's no indication that the opposition is in possession or has launched a CW variant of these rockets, such as the kind that was used in the 21st of August attack," he said.
"Equally significant, the environmental chemical and medical samples that the UN investigators collected provide clear and compelling evidence that the surface-to-surface rockets used in this attack contain the nerve agent sarin. We know the Assad regime possesses sarin. And there's no a shred of evidence, however, that the opposition does," Kerry said.
"And rocket components identified in the ground photos taken at the alleged chemical weapons impact location areas are associated with the unique type of rocket launcher that we know the Assad regime has," he said.
"We have observed these exact type of rocket launchers at the Assad regime facilities in Damascus and in the area around the 21st of August," he argued. The world can decide, he said, whether it was used by the regime, which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets and the weapons, or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don't control to fire rockets they don't have, containing sarin that they don't possess to kill their own people.
"And then, without even being noticed, they just disassembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus controlled by Assad," the Secretary of State said.
"I would say to the community of nations, time is short. Let's not spend time debating what we already know. Instead, we have to recognize that the world is watching to see whether we can avert military action and achieve through peaceful means even more than what those military strikes promise," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.