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UNITED NATIONS, March 25. /TASS/. Russia and China have reiterated their suggestion that the United Nations Security Council adopt a resolution aimed at preventing poisonous substances from falling into the hands of terrorists active in Syria and Iraq. Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Vladimir Safronkov told reporters that a draft resolution had been put forward at a close-door meeting initiated by Moscow.
The draft resolution was reviewed in 2016 but the western members of the UN Security Council did not support it. According to Safronkov, the document has not lost its importance particularly in light of the recent media reports on chemical attacks carried out in the Mosul area by militants of the Islamic State terror group (outlawed by Russia). "We need to launch serious work based on facts. Experts say that chemical terrorism threat in the Middle East is real," the Russian diplomat added.
"In order to encourage members of the UN Security Council to make joint efforts aimed at preventing terrorists from using chemical weapons, Russia and China have put forward an updated draft resolution," Safronkov said. He added that the western counterparts’ response to the document submitted by Moscow and Beijing was rather balanced as they said would forward it to their governments for assessment. "We will see what will become of it," the Russian deputy permanent representative added.
The draft resolution submitted by Russia and China in April 2016 demanded that all countries, particularly Syria’s neighbors, should immediately report to the UN Security Council about the activities of non-state actors aimed at manufacture, possession, development, transport and transfer of chemical weapons and means of delivery. In addition, the document stipulated that the Joint Investigative Mechanism set up by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) would also act in Iraq.
During the discussion of the document, a number of UN Security Council member states upheld the initiative while others, namely the UK, stood against including Iraq into the Joint Investigative Mechanism’s mandate.
The UK has not changed its mind since then, as on Friday, the British Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft once again opposed the Russian-Chinese initiative. He clarified his position saying that there was a big difference between the situations in Syria and Iraq because, in his words, the Iraqi government cooperated with the OPCW and nobody accused it of using chemical weapons against its own people. The British diplomat said that the Joint Investigative Mechanism had been set up because there was no other way to establish those responsible for chemical attacks since the Syrian authorities were unwilling to cooperate. He added this was the reason why the UK was against expanding the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism.
However, Russia’s deputy permanent representative did not agree that the situation in Syria was special. "In my opinion, this is a very unprofessional and emotional logic based on some political doctrine, which hampers the UN Security Council’s activities aimed at combating the chemical terrorism threat in the region," he stressed.
In early March, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said that several residents of Iraq’s city of Mosul were being treated for injuries from a suspected chemical attack. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons requested that the Iraqi authorities provide additional information and offered to assist in investigating into the alleged attack.
On March 10, Russia convened a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council over the Mosul chemical attack. On the same day, Iraq’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mohamed Ali Alhakim told reporters that Baghdad did not have any evidence proving that the Islamic State terror group had used chemical weapons in the Mosul area.