Iraq News

Russia, China fail to block chemical arms body's new powers

Russia and China lost a bid on Tuesday (November 20th) to stall the global chemical warfare watchdog's new powers to attribute blame for attacks like those in Syria, AFP reported.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted against Moscow and Beijing's attempt to challenge a June decision to grant the body the ability to name those behind chemical attacks.

"A clear majority against an attempt to wreck the historic June decision," British ambassador to the OPCW Peter Wilson said on Twitter after member states on Tuesday voted 82-30 against the Russian-Chinese plan.

Member states controversially decided in June to allow the OPCW to attribute blame for attacks for the first time. Previously, it had only been able to confirm the use of chemical weapons, but not who used them.

But Moscow and Beijing made a last-minute proposal at an OPCW meeting this week to set up an "open-ended expert group" on the OPCW's new role before it starts any such investigation.

Iran and Syria were among those that backed the Russian-Chinese motion.

The Syrian regime has denied using poison gases and a nerve agent on several occasions in recent years.

Countries will later hold a crucial vote on whether to approve the OPCW's 2019 budget -- a move triggered by Russia and Iran in protest at funding in the budget for the new attributive powers.

Normally the watchdog's budget is approved without a vote.

The OPCW says it aims to set up a team early next year that could attribute blame for all chemical attacks in Syria since 2013.

It will also be allowed to point the finger for attacks elsewhere if asked to by the country where the incident happened.

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