Russia and chemical weapons watchdog
Sir, – The Russian ambassador to Ireland described British claims of Russian involvement in the recent nerve agent attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury as “indecent” (News, April 3rd). The Russian ambassador to the UN, Vassily A Nebenzia, recently called for the “genuine experts on chemical weapons” at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to examine the evidence regarding UK claims of Russian involvement.
However, when the “genuine experts” of the OPCW were examining evidence of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, Russia actually vetoed the renewal of the mandate of the chemical weapons panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism – a collaboration of the UN and the OPCW, whose job it was to identify the culprits behind chemical attacks. A panel of UN rights investigators, however, announced definitively last September that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces were behind the April 2017 attack which killed more than 80 people.
The demise of the investigative panel was condemned widely by chemical weapons disarmament experts as they said it sent a signal to chemical weapons users that they could act with impunity.The Syrian government continues to use chemical weapons regularly, shielded by the Russian Security Council veto.
I wonder how the Russian ambassador might describe Russia’s role in Syria. According to another “genuine expert’”, the outgoing UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the actions of the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, in East Ghouta amounted to a “monstrous campaign of annihilation”. – Yours, etc,