U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain is convinced President Bashar Al-Assad is behind last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, and there’s agreement with the U.S. and France on the need to respond.
Speaking in an interview with BBC Radio 4, Hague said that diplomatic efforts “would not appear to have worked,” and that a stronger response would be legal and possible even without the full backing of the United Nations Security Council.
“I’m putting here the case that the Assad regime did this, and that the use of chemical weapons on a large scale like this cannot go unaddressed,” Hague said. “I can assure you that our thinking is exactly the same as in the U.S. There’s no difference in our positions, nor with our colleagues in France.”
Syria and the United Nations agreed yesterday to the inspection of the Ghouta area outside Damascus. The agreement five days after the purported attack is too late because constant shelling of the area could have corrupted or destroyed evidence, according to a senior U.S. administration official in an e-mailed statement. Some opposition groups say 1,300 people were killed in the attack in the Damascus suburb.
Hague said all the countries were “very clear that we can’t allow the idea that chemical weapons in the 21st century can be used with impunity.” He declined to comment on the nature of a possible response, or whether it would come before Parliament returns Sept. 2.
“Is it possible to act on chemical weapons; is it possible to respond without complete agreement on the Security Council? I would argue yes it is,” Hague said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com