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Russia vetoes UN resolution on chemical weapons probe in Syria

17 November 2017

Russian Federation has vetoed the US-initiated draft resolution of the United Nations Security Council on extending the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in Syria.

The resolution received 11 votes in favor and two against, with two abstentions.

Washington and Moscow have presented rival draft resolutions on renewing for a year the mandate of the UN-backed Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), which is tasked with identifying who is responsible for the many chemical attacks that have been perpetrated throughout the war. "We don't know whether we can come to an agreement".

The joint UN-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons panel was set up by Russian Federation and the United States in 2015 and unanimously endorsed by the council, which renewed its mandate past year. He added that this was the goal of Russia's draft resolution.

Russian Federation vetoed a USA -sponsored Security Council resolution on October 24 that would have renewed the mandate of the experts from the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The result of Thursday's vote means that the Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as the JIM, will cease operations when its current mandate expires at midnight Thursday. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted.

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Russian Federation has sharply criticized the JIM after its latest report blamed the Syrian air force for a sarin gas attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhoun that left scores dead. If the inquiry is not renewed, Nebenzia said on Monday: "It may send a bad signal, but the way the investigation has been conducted sends an even worse signal".

In reply to Russia's request, US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley argued that a draft submitted to the Security Council first is to be the first to vote on.

Before the voting, Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said Russian Federation was withdrawing its draft as the Security Council had refused to satisfy Moscow's request to consider the U.S. draft first. Whereas the Russian draft provided for improvement of the JIM's work, the United States insisted to leave things as they were.

This will be a serious blow to efforts to hold those responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria accountable.

He also said that the inquiry fails "basic standards" of an investigation and ignores any information that would cast doubt on Damascus's involvement in the April incident.

Dozens of people, including at least ten children, have been killed and more than 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in northern Syria, multiple activist groups claim.

Russia vetoes UN resolution on chemical weapons probe in Syria