Russia tries to rein in chemical weapons watchdog

Russia on Thursday (May 16th) presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council accusing its chemical weapons watchdog of politicization just before a new probe begins of chemical attacks in Syria, AFP reported.

The draft text states that the Security Council, where Russia holds veto power, is the only international body that can impose measures on countries that violate the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) agreed last year to set up a mechanism that would identify the perpetrators of chemical attacks, a move bitterly opposed by Russia and Syria.

UN diplomats said the Russian proposal was aimed at keeping the OPCW in check as it pushes ahead with the investigation to uncover those behind chemical weapons use in Syria.

"What it is really about of course is the Russians trying to strangle OPCW," said a diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

It remained unclear when the draft resolution would be put to a vote. UN resolutions require nine votes and no vetoes to be adopted in the council.

The proposed resolution is backed by China, diplomats said.

"This looks like a desperate bid to prevent further confirmation that the Syrian government, like ISIS, repeatedly used chemical weapons in violation of international law," said Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch.

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