Russia blocks bid to probe Syria chemical weapons use

Russia blocks bid to probe Syria chemical weapons use

United Nations, Nov 17: A UN inquiry into chemical weapons use in the war in Syria is set to expire after Russia vetoed a US-sponsored resolution that would have extended its mandate.
The mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), an inquiry launched jointly by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in 2015, will expire Thursday at midnight New York time (05:00 on Friday, GMT).
Eleven Security Council members states voted in favour of the resolution, two abstained, and two voted against it, including Russia, which holds veto power as a permanent member of the council.
“For the tenth time on Syria, and the fourth time on chemical weapons, Russia has actively obstructed the international community’s ability to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks,” Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN, said after the vote.
“Russia has killed the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
“The message to anyone listening is clear: in effect, Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria.” Earlier on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that the Security Council must extend the JIM’s mandate to ensure President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria “does not commit mass murder with chemical weapons ever again”.
“There are many more instances of chemical weapons use in Syria that must be investigated,” the US mission to the UN said in a statement earlier this week.
Divided Security Council
The US urged the Security Council to “stand united in the face of chemical weapons use against civilians and extend the work of this critical group”.
“Not doing so would only give consent to such atrocities while tragically failing the Syrian people who have suffered from these despicable acts,” the statement said.
But the Security Council has been divided over the JIM’s mandate, with the US and its allies on one side and Russia, a staunch ally of the Assad government, on the other.
Earlier this week, Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said the Russian delegation was in discussions with the US over the inquiry’s future. Russia was also expected to present its own resolution on the work of the JIM, which it said aimed to correct “systemic errors” in the mechanism’s current mandate.
That includes ensuring future investigations are conducted on-site and that a chain of custody is preserved, Nebenzya said on November 13.