French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says that he is certain that the deadly nerve agent sarin has been used by the Syrian regime. The statement follows tests in France on samples smuggled out of Syria by Le Monde newspaper reporters.
“These tests show the presence of sarin in various samples in our possession,” Fabius said in a statement. The test results were given to the UN. “France is certain that sarin gas was used several times in Syria in limited areas,” he said to France 2 television, stating clearly: “There is no doubt that it’s the regime and its accomplices.”
In Fabius’s opinion, “It would be unacceptable that those guilty of these crimes remain unpunished.”
Fabius suggested the West’s response could range from doing nothing to directly bombing the plants where the chemicals are being produced.
On Tuesday, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria has also sent a report to the UN, saying they had reasonable grounds to believe both sides in the conflict in Syria have been using chemical weapons, listing where they believe these attacks have taken place on four occasions.
But State Dept. Spokesperson Jen Psaki, in her daily press briefing Tuesday, stuck to her uncertainty guns. A reporter asked: “Foreign Minister Fabius … has said that France is now certain that sarin gas has been used several times in the conflict in Syria. Could you please give us the U.S. reaction?”
As we all know, President Barack Obama called in April for a “vigorous investigation” of the chemical weapons’ charges, saying the use of these weapons would be a “game changer” if verified. And ever since that day, the Administration has been busy knocking down the results of those vigorous investigations, arguing they aren’t sufficiently vigorous.
Psaki responded: “We are still seeking further information, and we’re not going to, of course, evaluate other countries’ information in public… As the U.S. delegation to the Human Rights Council announced today in a statement, we welcome this latest report from the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry. We agree with its expressions of serious concern for the unacceptable levels of violence being perpetrated against the Syrian people.
Let us not forget that this is a sad chapter in Syria’s history, which began over 800 days ago with the Assad regime’s decision to meet peaceful protests with violence. Although the Assad regime has yet to grant the commission long overdue access to Syria, we applaud the commission’s tenacity in nonetheless continuing to document violations and abuses – excuse me – of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties.”
Then Psaki did the lawyerly thing, citing the UN Commission of Inquiry statement: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used. It has not been possible on the evidence available to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems, or the perpetrator.”
There you go. It’s impossible to determine the precise circumstances of chemical weapons’ use, because it’s too dangerous to go in there, on account of all those chemical weapons…
“So we understand that the panel admitted that its findings remain inconclusive and note that as we have long said, a more comprehensive UN investigation is necessary in this case,” Psaki read her summation to the jury.
In other words, what’s required for the Obama Administration to decide conclusively, is for both sides to take a few days off, to let the investigators run reliable tests in lab conditions. So simple.