Russia slams ‘disgraceful’ ban on founding OPCW chief speaking at UN Security Council on Syria, PUBLISHES his speech unilateraly
An ex-OPCW chief, sacked under US pressure, has been barred from briefing the UN Security Council about a controversial probe into an alleged 2018 chemical attack in Syria. Russia called it a “shame” and published his speech.
Jose Bustani, a Brazilian diplomat who led the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from 1997 until 2002, was invited by Moscow to speak at a UN Security Council meeting about the so-called “Syrian chemical dossier,” but his appearance was blocked at the last minute by Belgium, Germany, Estonia, France, the US and the UK.
“What has happened now is yet more sad proof that Western delegations fear the uncomfortable truth,” Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, stressed while addressing the UN global body on Monday.
He said the six countries had “made history” because the Security Council has never voted “on the presence or absence of a briefer proposed by the [UNSC] president.” Prohibiting the former OPCW director general from speaking was a “shame and disgrace,” Nebenzia concluded, promising to publish Bustani’s statement after the meeting.
UK envoy Jonathan Allen said that Bustani is not in a position to “provide relevant knowledge or information.”
The Council today faced incredible disgrace when US, UK and other Western countries shamelessly tried to shut the mouth of former #OPCW Director General Jose #Bustani. This is a clear proof of how they in reality “care” for the truth and transparency #Syria#DoubleStandardshttps://t.co/0PMB3Iyg04— Dmitry Polyanskiy (@Dpol_un) October 5, 2020
Shortly afterwards, the undelivered speech appeared on the website of the Russian mission to the UN. In it, the sacked OPCW chief raised “serious questions” over “whether the independence, impartiality, and professionalism of some of the organization’s work is being severely compromised, possibly under pressure from some member states.”
As a major example, Bustani cited an OPCW investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma on April 7, 2018. Western governments, and media outlets, maintain that forces loyal to Damascus dropped two gas cylinders as part of an offensive against jihadist forces, killing scores of civilians.
The allegations were used as a pretext for a major US-led airstrike against Syrian government forces later that year. The OPCW launched a probe into the “chemical attack,” and in early March of 2019, the final report by the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) of the OPCW stated that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that canisters filled with “molecular chlorine” were dropped from Syrian aircraft in Douma.
The final report gave credence to the Western show of force by implicating the Syrian government of Bashar Assad in conducting the attack, which the Syrian authorities vehemently deny.
Shortly after the release of the OPCW report, an internal memo by OPCW engineers was leaked, suggesting the canisters were likely just placed at the site of the “attack,” and did not come from the skies. Still, the final report did not include such information, and a senior OPCW official reportedly ordered the removal of “all traces” of the dissenting opinion, according to WikiLeaks.
Months later, Bustani noted that he was invited to an expert panel which heard the testimony of an unnamed OPCW investigator, who came forward with damning evidence that his own organization had engineered a report based on a flawed conclusion and likely deliberately steered toward the outcome favored by the West.
That expert provided “compelling and documentary evidence of highly questionable, and potentially fraudulent conduct in the investigative process,” Bustani’s statement recalled. The Brazilian diplomat had been so stunned by the testimony that he personally called on the OPCW to be “resurrected to become the independent and non-discriminatory body it used to be.”
However, he continued, the chemical weapons watchdog did not respond to any calls for greater transparency about the controversial Douma investigation. The probe was “hidden behind an impenetrable wall of silence and opacity, making any meaningful dialogue impossible.”Also on rt.com OPCW put lid on key evidence in Douma chemical incident – watchdog whistleblower
In conclusion, Bustani called on Fernando Arias, the current OPCW chief, to hear the grievances of OPCW inspectors who voiced dissenting opinions on the Douma incident. They “have dared to speak out against possible irregular behavior in your organization,” Bustani argued, adding that it is “in the world’s interest that you hear them out.”
Bustani noted that he had been removed from his OPCW position “following a US-orchestrated campaign in 2002.” Back then, he was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Iraq prior to the 2003 US invasion there. A UN tribunal ruled that his sacking was unlawful.
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