The United Nations official in charge of weapons inspectors said that the report alleging chemical weapons use in Syria “stands for itself,” shooting back Russian allegations that the report was “biased” and “distorted.”
“It is a very sound, scientific report,” Angela Kane, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday in her first television interview since the report was released. “It has forty pages. It is buttressed by scientific evaluation, by diagnosis and by assessments, and so therefore I have no heard any criticisms of the findings themselves. The findings show that there is use of chemical weapons – what the inspectors found on the ground.”
The allegations of bias came from Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, who met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday.
The two met as members the U.N. Security Council, including Russia and the United States, continue to debate a resolution that would compel Syria to give up its chemical weapons.
The U.N. report, which was released on Monday, said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were fired against several Damascus neighborhoods on August 21.
The report did not specifically apportion blame for the attack, but analysts said the evidence presented supported the claim that the Assad regime was responsible.
“The mandate of the secretary general’s mechanism is not to draw conclusions, but to put the scientific facts in front of the world community,” Kane told Amanpour. “When you look at the report, people draw their own conclusions.”
Furthermore, Kane said, the report released earlier this week was only a partial one, covering only the August 21 attack; a more comprehensive report is forthcoming. CNN learned Wednesday that weapons inspectors will soon return to Syria to continue their work.
The weapons inspectors team “actually was in the country at the time of twenty one August,” Kane said, “so they were already investigating these additional allegations that have been brought forward, including by the Syrian government themselves. They were the first ones to raise the flag and say we would like you to investigate an allegation of chemical weapons use on the nineteenth of March.”
Kane made clear that she did not have a shred of doubt about the report’s authenticity.
“This is the very first time that we have had an investigation of chemical weapon use within such a short time, and with such a comprehensive manner,” she told Amanpour. “The mechanism has been used only twice before with inconclusive results, with very short reports. And so this is unprecedented in terms of the completeness, in terms of the access to the area, in terms of the access to the victims, in terms of the biomedical and also the environmental samples.”