World powers agree to give chemical watchdog teeth in Syria

REUTERS  Yves Herman

REUTERS Yves Herman

Though the use of chemical weapons is illegal under global law, the taboo on deploying them has been eroding after their repeated use in the Syrian civil war, but also in Iraq, Malaysia and Britain since 2012.

Member nations voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to empower the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to assign responsibility for chemical weapon use. The decision also condemned the use of chemical weapons since 2012 in Iraq, Malaysia, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the use of chemical weapons by State and by non-State actors as a direct threat to the object and goal of the convention. Asked point blank if Russian Federation, which joined the OPCW at its beginnings in 1997, would withdraw from the body, Shulgin said "all options are on the table", adding that the watchdog, which has overseen the destruction of all its declared chemical weapons, had been "severely damaged".

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a video tweet "after the recent spate in the use of chemical weapons at Salisbury, Syria and elsewhere it's great news that so many of our friends and partners have supported the United Kingdom today". As many as 82 OPCW member states of OPCW voted in favour of United Kingdom proposal.

The world's foremost chemical weapons watchdog has granted itself new powers to assign blame for attacks, despite protests by Russian Federation.

"New Zealand will continue to work with other countries to ensure chemical weapons are never used under any circumstances", said Mr Peters.

Both Moscow, the main ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Damascus, had vehemently opposed the move. It found that Syrian government troops used nerve agent sarin and chorine barrel bombs on several occasions, while Islamic State militants were found to have used sulphur mustard. Earlier in an oblique criticism of UK's move for unilateral proposal, India even as it opposed use of chemical weapons, called for constructive engagement, dialogue and unity of objective at the Convention.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok warned Wednesday that the repeated use of chemical weapons was a "black cloud" hanging over the OPCW which has destroyed 96 percent of the world's toxic arms stockpiles.

India shares this concern and expresses its deepest sympathies to the victims of chemical weapon attacks and their families.

The result was a victory for Britain's Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson.

It also said the organisation was facing an "artificially created crisis".

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