In a bid to help the UN Security Council overcome its "embarrassing paralysis," the UN chief said on Monday he may ask the council to demand that Syria move its chemical arms stocks to Syrian sites where they can be safely stored and destroyed.
Later this week or next week, the UN team of chemical weapons experts, led by Ake Sellstrom of Sweden, is expected to submit a report to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about its investigation of an Aug. 21 chemical attack that the United States says killed over 1,400 people, many of them children.
"I have already been considering certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council when I present the investigation team's report," Ban said, adding that the international community would be obligated to act if the use of poison gas in Syria's 2-1/2-year civil war was confirmed.
"I'm considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria's chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed," he said.
Ban also urged Syria to join the international anti-chemical weapons convention, a treaty that Damascus has never signed. He was responding to questions about a Russian plan to place Syrian chemical arms under international control.
Ban, who just returned from the Group of 20 developed and developing nations' summit in Russia, said the Security Council has an obligation to end its deadlock on Syria. "Two and half years of conflict in Syria have produced only embarrassing paralysis in the Security Council," he said.
"Should Dr Sellstrom's report confirm the use of chemical weapons, then this would surely be something around which the Security Council could unite in response, and indeed something that should merit universal condemnation."
Sellstrom's report will only say whether chemical weapons were used, not who is believed to have used them. Russia, backed by China, has used its veto power in the Security Council three times to block resolutions condemning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and threatening it with sanctions.
Assad's government, like Russia, blames the rebels for the Aug. 21 attack. US President Barack Obama is seeking congressional authorization to launch strikes against Syria because of the Aug. 21 incident, which it blames on Assad's government.