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Angela Kane: Disarming Syria

The UN high representative for disarmament affairs discusses the politics behind the chemical weapons investigation.

Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 16:36
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After a couple of tense days, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and opposition groups have agreed to the briefest of ceasefires to let the experts go to the scene of the country's largest chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus.

Angela Kane led the negotiations on the ground on behalf of the United Nations; a career diplomat from Germany, she brought to bear 20 years of diplomatic experience to make it happen.

I think the evidence is there [that] it [chemical weapons] has been used. It is now up to the member states to see how we are going to put that forward, but, I think they should be waiting for the full report when it is ready.

Angela Kane, the UN's high representative for disarmament affairs

Now she and the inspectors who technically work on behalf of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are getting ready for the crucial stage: determining how much chemical agents the regime has stockpiled, and destroying it - all of it.

With civil war raging, many wonder whether it can it be done. Is the time frame realistic? And what about Russian allegations that the inspections were politicised?

Kane says fears about too much time passing after the attacks and an investigation were unfounded: "I have always been surprised by those questions ... The chemical weapons very often stay in the environment, in the bodies, in the biomedical samples - blood and urine for months. So it's not like if you investigate this after a couple of days it has already evaporated.

"In fact this is the first time that you've had a chemical weapons use investigation within four or five days - it has never happened before. And I think this is part of the reason why the team came with such a large body of samples and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used," Kane explains.

Kane dismisses Russian allegations weapons inspectors work was politically influenced: "It's there as a fact. The chemical weapons were used. There is overwhelming evidence of the use of chemical weapons. The team never had the mandate to attribute who used it."

On Talk to Al Jazeera, we examine the politics behind the chemical weapons investigation in Syria with Angela Kane, the United Nations' high representative for disarmament affairs.

This episode of Talk to Al Jazeera  can be seen from September 22 at the following times GMT: Sunday: 1930; and Monday: 1430. 

 Click here for more  Talk to Al Jazeera

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