THE HAGUE, November 28. /TASS/. Activity of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact-Finding Mission in Syria has serious flaws, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Georgy Kalamanov, who heads Russia’s delegation at the 22nd Session of the Conference of the State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, said on Tuesday.
According to Kalamanov, the official Damascus actively cooperates with both the OPCW and its two missions: on preliminary assessment and the fact-finding mission on the use of chemical weapons. "As for the first mission, some issues still remain," the official said. "They may demand additional clarification, despite the vast material already provided by Damascus on this, but in a very technical way and without politicizing."
Speaking on the second mission, Kalamanov stressed that "from the very beginning of its three-year-long activity serious flaws have been constantly seen." This refers to the remote methods of investigations without visiting the scene of chemical incidents, collecting evidence based on the data provided by the Syrian opposition and the failure to comply with the principle of safeguarding material evidence, he said.
The Russian delegation’s head also mentioned the situation surrounding the extension of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism on chemical attacks in Syria. "The mere fact that just two days before the seventh report of the JIM on the incident in Khan Shaykhun (April 4, 2017) was due to be released, the US colleagues tried to impose the decision on the automatic extension of this body’s mandate already speaks volumes," he said.
"The following cynical steps in the UN Security Council, including stonewalling the joint draft resolution of Russia, China and Bolivia on extending and strengthening the JIM mandate did not only kill the mechanism itself, but once again showed the plans to use the respected international organizations such as the UN or the OPCW to implement geopolitical ambitions in regard to the situation in Syria and the Middle East in general."
He stressed that the report was designed to confirm the version promoted by Washington and some other Western countries that Syria’s authorities were involved in the incident in order to justify the US missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in April 2017.
The mandate of UN-OPCW JIM expired on November 18. The mechanism was set up by the UN Security Council in August 2015 to determine those responsible for the use of toxic agents in Syria. The mission analyzed data collected by the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM). The Joint Investigative Mechanism presented seven reports pinning the blame for four incidents with chemical weapons on the Syrian government.