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Iran: Chemical arms treaty abused to wrongly accuse Syrian government

In this August 29, 2013 photo, members of the UN investigation team take samples from the ground in the Damascus countryside of Zamalka, Syria. (By AP)

Iran’s UN ambassador has censured the misuse of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Security Council to bring groundless charges against Syria, warning that such an “unproductive” approach will damage the credibility of the world body.

Speaking during a Security Council meeting on Syria and chemical weapons on Monday, Majid Takht-Ravanchi said the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN’s chemical watchdog, had confirmed the destruction of Syria’s entire chemical stockpile and its 27 production facilities.

However, this fact and the Syrian government’s significant cooperation with the OPCW and the United Nations, including the submission of more than 80 monthly reports and other information, are being ignored, he added.

Takht-Ravanchi also stressed that such “unproductive policies” will not contribute to the resolution of the outstanding questions, but it has rather “divided this Council, eroded the OPCW’s credibility and weakened professionalism and consensual decision-making process in that Organization.”

Reiterating Iran’s call for the “balanced, full and non-discriminatory implementation of the CWC,” the envoy said, “In the past several years, based on unsubstantiated allegations, the processes of the CWC, OPCW and the Security Council have been abused against the Syrian government.”

Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the United Nations and the OPCW.

However, Western countries have repeatedly accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of conducting chemical attacks in Syria.

Damascus has categorically rejected the accusations, saying the attacks had been staged by foreign intelligence agencies to pressure the government in the face of army advances against militants.

It has also specifically pointed to the role of the White Helmets, a group which claims to be a humanitarian NGO but has long been accused of working with anti-Damascus militants and staging false-flag gas attacks.

Recently, a former OPCW lead investigator challenged the final report of the body’s Fact-Finding Mission into an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma near the capital Damascus on April 7, 2018, saying it may not reflect the reality on the ground.

In late 2019, whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published several batches of documents suggesting that the OPCW may have intentionally doctored its findings, notably avoiding revelations which may point to terrorists having been behind the alleged chemical attack.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Takht-Ravanchi voiced support for comprehensive investigations into any allegations of chemical weapons attacks, but cautioned that such probes must be impartial.

As a major victim of chemical weapons in contemporary history, Iran strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons by anyone, in any place and under any circumstances, he said.

Tehran stands ready to help restore the authority of the OPCW and promote the full implementation of the CWC without discrimination, the Iranian official added.

‘OPCW reports highly politicized’

Additionally, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari said the recent Arria Formula meeting that recently convened on the matter “revealed the high level of politicization on the part of some governments that seek to use OPCW reports against Syria.”

“Those same States — which support terrorists in his country and continue to impose sanctions that suffocate the population — do not want to hear the truth.  They refuse to recognize the facts, corroborated by Sigrid Kaag in her 2014 report, that Syria has fully abided by its commitment to destroy its chemical weapons production facilities,” he said.

Kaag headed the joint OPCW-UN mission that oversaw the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

Ja’afari further said, “Syria has sent over 200 letters to the United Nations, containing detailed lists of parties that continue to send chemical and other weapons into the country.”

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