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Russia, China boycott UNSC meeting on Syria chemical weapons

May 14, 2020 at 9:55 am

Participants are seen during a United Nations Security Council meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York, US [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

Russia and China on Tuesday boycotted a “closed-door” video conference held by the United Nations Security Council to discuss chemical weapons in Syria.

A diplomat, who requested anonymity said both Russia and China “had empty tiles on the screen” during the virtual meeting.

Russia’s UN Ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said his country had that the “discussion be open”.

“Regrettably, our western partners and their allies insisted on holding this meeting behind closed doors in an informal setting, despite the slogans of openness and transparency of the Security Council,” Nebenzia said, adding that “such an approach is unacceptable to us as it undermines the prerogatives of state parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.”

During the monthly meeting, the UNSC members heard reports from the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, and the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Fernando Arias.

The council also heard from the coordinator of the OPCW investigation and identification team, Santiago Onate-Laborde.

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At the beginning of April, the team published a report in which it explicitly accused Damascus of launching three chemical weapons attacks in 2017.

Both Syria and its major ally, Russia, rejected the claims, saying Damascus’ chemical production capabilities had been destroyed.

Meanwhile, the British diplomatic mission to the United Nations said in a statement that Tuesday’s meeting “has been scheduled in a closed format to allow Council members and the Syrian Arab Republic to exchange views frankly and ask questions to the briefers”.

“A refusal to attend the meeting and engage with the OPCW on the substance of its findings is disappointing and indicative of the preference of some council members to undermine the prohibition on chemical weapons use by attacking the people and institutions charged with protecting it,” the statement added.

Meanwhile Russian envoy Nebenzia told reporters that Moscow would launch its own investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, adding that the conclusions of the investigations will be shared with the world.