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Russia’s UN envoy asks Syria-related questions to OPCW head

Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN announced a violation of the principle of collecting evidence in the investigation of incidents with chemical weapons in Duma

UNITED NATIONS, February 8. /TASS/. Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya has put forward a number of questions to Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fernando Arias during a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

Arias addressed the UN Security Council via a video linkup on Tuesday to present a report on the Syrian government’s alleged responsibility for the chemical incident in the city of Douma in April 2018.

"Mr. Arias, here are our questions again. On what grounds both the FFM and the illegitimate IIT violate the fundamental principle of collecting and preserving evidence, the so-called chain of custody? Mr. Arias, what is it that you are guided by when you sign documents, the conclusions of which rest upon data provided by some "third side", e.g. the proverbial White Helmets, who do not even try to conceal their bias? Has the Technical Secretariat changed its working principles? Provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention, have they stopped serving as guidance to the OPCW?" Nebenzya said.

"Back in 2013, the UN Mission to Investigate Alleged Uses of Chemical Weapons in Syria wrote in a report that ‘release of chemical weapons at the alleged site could not be independently verified in the absence of primary information on delivery systems and of environmental and biomedical samples collected and analysed under the chain of custody,’" the Russian diplomat continued. "Now the Organization basically operates the information from open sources and third parties. Apparently, soon it will be acceptable to e-mail evidence of a chemical incident to the OPCW or submit it anonymously. Why not? If this fits into the right narrative, then it will be considered ‘reasonable grounds’ to do certain conclusions.

"Mr. Arias, we still look forward to plausible explanation with regard to the shameful scandal around the FFM [fact-finding mission] Douma report, which was simply rewritten under pressure of Western states, in particular its part about chemical, toxicology, and ballistic inspection, and testimonies of eyewitnesses," he added.

According to Nebenzya, the report by the OPCW Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) ignores scientific, logical, and cause-and-effect ties.

In his words, for the UN Security Council the Douma incident "is something akin to the lab tube that former US Secretary of State C.Powell demonstrated in this very chamber 20 years ago.".