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Forcing the OPCW to assign blame for chemical weapons incidents will damage the organization– Russia

Forcing the OPCW to assign blame for chemical weapons incidents will damage the organization– Russia
A recently approved budget for an "attribution mechanism" which will let the UN's Chemical weapons watchdog also assign blame for attacks has already damaged the organization, Russia's envoy to the OPCW told RT.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' (OPCW) increased 2019 budget was greenlighted on Tuesday, including a $2.4 million allotment for the creation of an "attributional mechanism" which will allow the monitoring organization to assign blame for chemical weapons incidents. At the same meeting, the group shot down Russia and China's joint initiative to establish a special group to investigate the legitimacy of broadening the OPCW's powers.

The "attribution mechanism," which has yet to take any concrete shape, will provide the OPCW with the power to assign blame for chemical weapons-related incidents, a job which is currently the responsibility of the UN Security Council. The OPCW has traditionally only been tasked with monitoring and providing technical evaluations of such incidents.

The budget was approved due to the successful efforts of a group of western states, led by Washington, to misinform participants about the initiative, and the essence of Moscow's objections' to it, Russia's envoy to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin told RT in an exclusive interview.

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"In my understanding, this is somehow a result of a huge disinformation campaign launched by the US-led western group. They've been trying to persuade people, many delegations that Russia is willing to cut off oxygen to the OPCW, to kill it while preventing it to get a decent budget. The US ambassador just told as much during his opening remarks," Shulgin stated.

The consequences of the vote are still difficult to assess, and it's too early to make any real conclusions, he added. Yet, the one thing is certain – the attribution initiative has already damaged the organization.

Our opponents have achieved a Pyrrhic victory – too much damage has been caused to the OPCW.

The primary task now is to mitigate the damage which has been already done, Shulgin continued, suggesting that the attribution mechanism should be accountable to the OPCW's executive council. Unlike the Conference of the State Parties which approved the budget, the executive council is not completely dominated by the US; granting them oversight power would help prevent the blaming mechanism from making biased decisions.

"In the near future, our task will be to try and carry out damage-limiting policy. We'll try and make sure that this so-called attributive mechanism will be put under close surveillance by the executive council of our organization," the Russian official said.

Apart from the self-imposed damage, the attributional mechanism is also an attempt to deprive the UN Security Council "of a very large part of its prerogatives."

"This is actually a short-sighted policy. It's dealing a big blow to the whole word architecture of security and peace as established after the World War Two," Shulgin warned.

The initial proposal to broaden the OPCW's powers was pushed by the United Kingdom earlier this year. The proposal received overwhelming support from numerous western states and was eventually ratified in June. Moscow has repeatedly warned that the "illegitimate" move would not only interfere with the UN Security Council's powers, it would also violate the OPCW's own charter, as the organization's members did not agree to taking on "quasi-prosecution" or "quasi-police" functions. 

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