Russia, US at Odds Before Vote on Syria Chemical Weapons Team

Aaron Brown
November 17, 2017

The United States, Britain and France have insisted that the JIM should be allowed to continue its work and that dozens of other cases of chemical weapons use in Syria must be investigated.

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.

United Nations diplomats said they were expecting a Russian veto of the USA text during the council meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm (2000 GMT).

If the Security Council can not agree on a renewal, its mandate will expire at midnight Thursday.

On November 2, Russian Federation and the United States submitted to the UN Security Council mutually exclusive draft resolutions on extending the JIM's mandate. "We don't know whether we can come to an agreement". Meanwhile, the Russian-drafted resolution-which calls for a "re-evaluation" of the Khan Sheikhoun findings- is unlikely to garner the nine votes required for adoption in the council.

But the USA draft would support the JIM's experts pursuing investigations "in a manner they deem appropriate". Nebenzia said at the time that Moscow wanted to see a JIM report on attacks, which was issued two days later.

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Russia's deputy ambassador to the U.N., Vladimir Safronkov, dismissed the JIM's findings about Khan Sheikhoun as "mythical or invented", asking how Syria could be blamed since investigators never visited the town or the air base where the sarin attack was claimed to have been launched.

The JIM has also accused the Islamic State extremist group of using mustard gas in 2015 and again in September 2016 in Um Hosh in Aleppo.

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.

We immediately consulted the US Department of State on that matter and the official who assisted us offered an unclear explanation, which demonstrated his understanding of the absurdity of Mattis' statement, he said. Later, the United States reviewed its draft to include some of the provisions from the Russian document.

"What is at stake is the professional, independent, objective, scientific, nonpartisan, depoliticized JIM which we've now got, which we've had before, and which we need in the future", Rycroft said.

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

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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