A hypothetical meeting held by the Security Council yesterday, Wednesday, witnessed an argument between Russia and a number of European countries over the accusation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons of the Syrian Army of carrying out chemical attacks in the governorate of Hama.
During the meeting, according to a statement published by the Russian mission to the world organization, Russia’s permanent delegate to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, reiterated Moscow’s position rejecting the report, stressing that the Syrian government had in the past closed its military chemical program and destroyed the rest of its entire chemical arsenal.
Nebenzia pointed out that since October 2013, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical has carried out multiple inspections that have not revealed any unauthorized reserves of chemical weapons in Syria, adding that the government in Damascus continues to cooperate with the organization in good faith.
The Russian delegate indicated that Moscow was convinced from the start that the establishment of an investigation and identification team (IIT) within the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical comes with the aim of “justifying the unlawful hostilities against Syria that took place in 2017 and 2018”, saying that these intentions are clearly reflected in the last report.
Nebenzia continued, that the “illegal” investigation and identification team preferred “to repeat false accusations previously made by some states” instead of conducting a detailed investigation, stressing that this matter does not call for great surprise in light of the scandal that erupted late last year, when the means revealed Information about the facts of the OPCW General Secretariat tampering with the aim of holding the Syrian army responsible for the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, in April 2018.
Nebinzia stated that the report is biased and includes flaws and loopholes that must be filled in, noting that this document is based on information and testimonies collected remotely and primarily from groups opposed to the Syrian government, with total disregard for the data provided by the Damascus government, as well as clear violations of the rules of the Arms Ban Treaty Chemical, which stipulates that the facts should be collected in the hands of the experts of the organization and on the spot only.
On the other hand, according to statements issued by its missions, representatives of several western countries opposed the Russian position, including Germany’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Jurgen Schultz, who stressed the importance of accountability in these “heinous crimes” and that “impunity is not an option”.
The German diplomat, without mentioning the name of Russia, indicated that the current time is not appropriate for “making old and new unjustified allegations that question the legitimacy of the OPCW, professional, objective, independent and impartial of its experts”.
In turn, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Britain to the United Nations, Jonathan Allen, endorsed the report’s findings, noting that it supplements the conclusions of the previous two investigations conducted with a UN mandate and held the Syrian government responsible for at least 4 chemical attacks.
For its part, Estonia, through its delegate to the United Nations, Sven Jorgensen, expressed support for the report’s conclusions as well, and called on the parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the members of the UN Security Council to act collectively to pursue the Syrian government “in order to prevent the recurrence of such incidents not in Syria but rather All over the world”.
For his part, Stephen Dujarric, a spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, described the findings of the latest investigation as “very unfortunate”, stressing that the position of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that the use of chemical weapons by any party and under any circumstance is absolutely unacceptable, and it is necessary Accounting for those involved in such actions.
The latest report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Chemistry states that the Syrian army bears responsibility for alleged chemical attacks targeting the town of Latamneh in Hama in March 2017.