An obvious attempt to manipulate Chemical Weapons Convention

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Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise to learn how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, in a course organized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

By the initiative of the US, the UK, France and Germany, supported by Australia and Canada a special session of the Conference of the States-Parties (CSP) of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is to be held on June 26 – 27. As these countries declare they intent to convene the CSP for good purposes – to condemn the use of chemical weapons in the UK, Iraq, Malaysia and Syria as well as to prevent such incidents in the future.

In fact, the western “quartet” is planning to use the special session of the CSP for even greater incitement of anti-Russian and anti-Syrian hysteria around the so-called “Skripals’ case” and the Syrian “chemical dossier”. There should be no doubt about this scenario. Such a move can be partially explained by the desire of the Western group to compensate its loss of grounds in the settlement of the situation in Syria and in the Middle East as a whole. At the same time they still dream to achieve their main goal – to discredit and topple the government of Bashar Assad.

To achieve these goals the opponents of the official Damascus would like to authorise the director-general of the Technical Secretariat to “identify” the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons – a mission that has nothing to do with the role and mandate of the director-general. There are no relevant provisions in the CWC at all. But it clearly specifies that in case of a serious violation of the CWC such information should be submitted for consideration of the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly. What we see now is an obvious attempt to manipulate the Convention, to interpret its provisions in accordance with the selfish interests of a small number of countries. The situation is even stranger since the states-parties presumed guilty have long been designated by the Western countries.

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The proposed idea about attributive functions is not new – it was “fully tested” during the work until November 2017 of the demised OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). The main goal of this proposal is the creation of a mechanism under the control of the Western group, which will make conclusions required by them. So called “good intentions” declared by the US, the UK, France and Germany are a clear attempt to mislead the states-parties.

It is possible to only agree with one point proclaimed advanced by a number of Western States: the global regime of non-proliferation of chemical weapons based on the CWC is indeed in a state of deep crisis and needs to be protected.

OPCW suffers from the ongoing insinuations from the US, the UK, France and some other countries, their attempts to use the purely technical platform of the OPCW for the benefit of realising their own geopolitical intentions. Washington, London and Paris repeatedly demonstrated their disinterest in conducting objective and professional investigations of cases of chemical terrorism in Syria and endless provocations with the use of toxic chemicals by militants and the NGO affiliated with them – like “White Helmets”.

Twice over just a year in violation of the UN Charter and other fundamental norms of international law, Washington first single-handedly, and then all three Western permanent members of the UNSC carried out an act of the military aggression against a sovereign state. They launched missiles at Syrian military and civil infrastructure sites. They did not intend to wait for any investigation by the OPCW of self-orchestrated “chemical incidents” in Khan-Sheikhun on April 4, 2017 and in Douma on April 7, 2018.

Due to unprecedented pressure on the leadership of the Technical Secretariat, the US, the UK, France and Germany dictated the Fact-finding Mission (FFM) methods of its work and achieved the dominance of obedient representatives of NATO countries within the FFM. The FFM is conducting its activities remotely, until recently without a single visit to the places of the alleged incidents, relying primarily on the falsified “evidence” provided by the opposition. The situation was partially reversed only now –thanks to the efforts of the Russian and Syrian military forces that provided appropriate security conditions during the visit of the FFM specialists to Douma in April-May.

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It is noteworthy that the states led by Washington ignored the briefing organised by Russia and Syria at the OPCW HQ on April 26 on one of the staged footages by the “White Helmets” related to the alleged use of toxic chemicals in Douma. The allegations of the use of chemical weapons over there were completely denounced at the briefing.

The US was unable to obtain the endorsement of its anti-Syrian draft decisions at the extraordinary EC meetings in November 2017 and April 2018. A significant number of states-parties decided not to associate themselves with those politically biased documents. Now the US and the UK, with the support of France and Germany, seem to have decided to bring this issue to the CSP in hope to get the desired number of votes there.

It is important to take the current situation at the OPCW with all seriousness. If the plans to authorise the director-general of the Technical Secretariat at a special session of the CSP to “identify” the perpetrators of the use of chemical weapons succeed that could lead to the disruption of normal work of the OPCW as one of the most successful disarmament mechanism.

Embassy of the Russian Federation in Cambodia – Phnom Penh.

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