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The END of the OPCW? Russia and Syria reject new powers for the organization

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In a move that many critics have pointed out only detracts from the credibility and neutrality of the organization, Members of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have approved a UK motion to expand the organization’s power, which can now assign responsibility for chemical weapon attacks.

[…] the new OPCW powers are part of an overall strategy to pressure Russia and Syria

The UK called for a special session back in May, outlining the need to defend the global ban on chemical weapons. The intergovernmental organization’s main motive was the verification and adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Moscow has said it will not recognize the decision as it considers the move a “strong blow against the convention and the OPCW,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabok said on Thursday.

Less credibility

According to Swiss parliamentarian Emmanuel Kilchenmann, the UK and US-backed decision to allocate more powers threatens the credibility of the OPCW and turns it into a political tool.

“These neutral organizations should not be used as a tool for policy. We see exactly the intentions behind this proposal from the United States and the UK, who always try to use some institutions to make them stronger to ensure more credibility in their claims; (rather) they should remain neutral, objective, and not a tool of politics”, Kilchenmann said.

Russia’s representative to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, said the atmosphere in Wednesday’s session was tense and noted that there had been attempts at blackmailing Russia’s closest allies to back the resolution.

Despite these efforts, China, India, and South Africa supported Russia’s rejection of the motion.

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During the vote, Shulgin pointed out that Russia’s position was that the UN Security Council is the only organization that can impose sanctions and assign responsibility to anyone for the use of chemical weapons.

The politicization of chemical weapons

The special session was convened around the controversy created by an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma near Damascus in April. The Syrian government vehemently denied that it had any responsibility for these attacks. However, the United Kingdom, France and the United States launched dozens of air strikes aimed at destroying alleged chemical weapons factories in Damascus.

The Russian delegation of the OPCW criticized the organization’s methods of conducting the investigations of the incident and considered its finding to be of little substance.

According to Tarek Ahmad, Syrian Socialist National Party representative, Western states are already using the claims of “chemical weapons” against the Syrian government.

“The issue of chemical weapons is one of the weapons Western states use against Syria. It is an easy tool to put the blame on somebody. Western allies try to create a new, more comfortable mechanism, that will give more credibility to their unfounded claims,” Ahmad said.

More Krydee, a representative of the Democratic Front of Syria, believes that the new OPCW powers are part of an overall strategy to pressure Russia and Syria.

“This is a political game designed to pressure the Russian and Syrian governments. It is done by those who want to interfere in Syria, they just need any excuse,” Krydee said.

The head of the Russian delegation at the special session of the OPCW said that the organization seemed divided and its members considered the future of the OPCW after the adoption of the motion.

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