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UN: Laboratory examination of samples taken by inspectors in Syria to begin in coming hours

September 03, 2013, 4:20 UTC+3

The countries in which laboratories are located are not named for security reasons

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UNITED NATIONS, September 3 (Itar-Tass) - The samples, taken by UN inspectors at the site of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, will be delivered to European laboratories in the coming hours. UN Secretary-General’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said that their examination by experts would begin immediately thereafter.

According to him, the samples were sent from The Hague on Monday evening and will be delivered to the labs “in the coming hours.” “The laboratories are ready to begin the examination immediately upon receipt of the samples,” Nesirky said. He said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday discussed in a telephone conversation with the head of the group of UN inspectors, ·ke Sellstr·m, the possibility of accelerating the process of the investigation.

“The whole process will be done strictly adhering to the highest established standards of verification recognised by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW),” spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters in New York following a telephone call between Mr. Ban and Dr. ·ke Sellstr·m.

Mr. Ban asked Mr. Sellstr·m to expedite the mission’s analysis of the samples and information it had obtained “without jeopardising the scientific timelines required for accurate analysis and to report the results to him as soon as possible,” Mr. Nesirky said, adding that they had discussed ways to further accelerate the analysis. He reiterated that the UN mission is “uniquely capable of establishing, in an impartial and credible manner, the facts of any use of chemical weapons based directly on evidence collected on the ground.”

Last week, the UN Secretariat announced that the expert examination would be carried out at European laboratories, certified by the OPCW. The countries in which they are located are not named for security reasons. It is only known that the permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States) are not among them.

The team of UN inspectors, consisting of about 10 experts of the OPCW and the World Health Organisation (WHO), since last Monday has been studying details of an incident near Aleppo that took place on August 21. The opposition, the United States and other Western countries claim that on that day the Syrian government army had used nerve gas sarin, which killed hundreds of people.

According to the UN, “two Syrian officials” observe the work of the inspectors. It did not specify how long the expert examination would continue. The experts are to state their findings in a report to the UN Secretary-General who will bring them to the attention of the Security Council members. If the use of chemical weapons is confirmed, they are to make a decision on the next steps.

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