UK National Security Council unanimous on Syria ahead of Cameron's UN meeting

The UK National Security Council has unanimously agreed that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian president Bashar al-Asasad was “unacceptable”, UK prime minister David Cameron has said.

Members of the UK NSC include defence secretary Philip Hammond, home secretary Theresa May, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, and other military and intelligence heads. The meeting, which takes place weekly, lasted for an hour and a half.

A spokesperson for No. 10 said:

The National Security Council met this afternoon to consider the Government’s response to the appalling chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week. The NSC agreed unanimously on a recommendation that the Cabinet will consider tomorrow.

Ministers agreed that the Assad regime was responsible for this attack and that the world shouldn’t stand idly by; and that any response should be legal, proportionate and specifically to protect civilians by deterring further chemical weapons use. There was unanimous backing for the approach we are pursuing at the United Nations and the Chapter VII resolution put forward to fellow P5 members today.

Earlier today, the prime minister said Britain had drafted up a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning the attack and authorising “necessary measures to protect civilians”.

Cameron will later put forward this resolution to the other permanent members of the UNSC in New York.

The UNSC is made up of 15 members. The five permanent members - China, Russia, France, the US and the UK - have the power to veto any resolution put forward. Previous efforts to take action against Assad have been vetoed by Russia and China, although UN secretary Ban Ki-moon has urged “unity”.

Seperately, Ban Ki-moon has said UN inspectors will need four more days in Syria to assess what happened last week and who was responsible.