Britain says Syria response possible without unanimous U.N. backing

LONDON Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:00am BST

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague arrives at 10 Downing Street, in central London, July 15, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague arrives at 10 Downing Street, in central London, July 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday it would be possible to respond to chemical weapons use in Syria without the unanimous backing of the United Nations Security Council.

U.N. inspectors will visit on Monday the site of an alleged chemical weapon attack which killed hundreds last week, but Britain and the United States have made clear they believe the access was granted too late and that the Syrian government was behind the attack.

"Is it possible to respond to chemical weapons without complete unity on the U.N. Security Council? I would argue yes it is, otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, such crimes, and I don't think that's an acceptable situation," Hague said on BBC radio.

Britain, has been among the major western governments calling for a strong international response to the alleged chemical attack.

"The United Nations Security Council ... has not been united on Syria, has not shouldered its responsibilities on Syria, bluntly, otherwise there would have been a better chance of bringing this conflict to an end a long time ago," Hague said.

The U.N. Security Council has been hamstrung by the opposition of veto-wielding members, Russia and China, to any firm action.

"Whatever we do will be in accordance with international law and will be based on legal advice to the national security council and to the cabinet," he added.

(Reporting by William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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