THE HAGUE, November 19. /TASS/. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is running the risk of being left without a budget for 2019, Russia’s Permanent Representative to OPCW Alexander Shulgin said on Monday on the sidelines of the 23rd conference of the signatory nations to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
The organization’s budget for 2019 is among the key issues on the conference’s agenda. Western countries insist the budget be increased in order to finance a new attributive mechanism that is being formed with an aim of identifying those responsible for chemical attacks. Russia objects against vesting the OPCW with attributive authority and hence stands against budget increases, offering its ideas of how to settle this problem.
When asked if it is possible that the budget would not be adopted at the conference, Shulgin said, "I don’t rule out anything." "Debates are very heated. Our Western partners look very nervous," he noted.
"Today, we once again heard frenzied remarks from the United States and a number of other states who demand a decision be taken immediately," said Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Georgy Kalamanov, who leads the Russian delegation.
"The secretariat suggested contributions be increased. These funds are to be used to finance the establishment of the [attributive] mechanism. It is not acceptable for Russia," Kalamanov said. "We cannot support this decision."
"The organization is sinking. This process is quite obvious as the OPCW seeks to deal with issues beyond its competence. It must address matters of the implementation of the [Chemical Weapons] Convention and destruction of existing chemical weapons," Kalamanov said, adding that only the United States still possesses chemical weapons.
OPCW Director General Fernando Arias said earlier that the organization is forming an attributive mechanism to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons. The team is to begin its work in February 2019. First, it will focus on Syria, with its mandate being linked to the fact-finding mission. It means that OPCW experts will be authorized to probe into possible chemical attacks in Syria after 2014.
The decision to vest the OPCW Secretariat with attributive authority, or the right to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, was taken at a special session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in late June.
The Russian side has repeatedly objected against making a "punitive body" of the OPCW. According to the Russian side, once the OPCW is authorized to identify those to blame for the use of chemical weapons, it will mean infringement upon the exclusive domain of the United Nations Security Council, Moreover, such actions are not envisaged by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Due to the specifics of the voting procedure, the decision was taken by a minority, with only 82 out of the 193 member nations casting their votes for it (this much turned out to be enough as the votes of those abstaining were not taken into account).