Russian veto shuts down UN probe of chemical weapons in Syria

    16 de noviembre de 2017

    United Nations, Nov 16 (efe-epa).- Russia exercised its veto Thursday to block a UN Security Council resolution to re-authorize an investigation into use of chemical weapons in Syria.

    The United States and eight other countries on the 15-seat council voted in favor of the text, drafted by Washington.

    Bolivia joined Russia in voting "no," while China and Egypt abstained.

    Each of the five permanent members of the council - the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - has the power to veto a resolution.

    Thursday marked the 10th time that Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar Assad, has used its veto to stop a resolution on Syria, where some 500,000 people have died in a civil war that erupted in March 2011.

    The mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) expires at midnight Thursday.

    "Russia has killed the Joint Investigative Mechanism. Russia has undermined our ability to deter future attacks," the US representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said after the vote.

    "In effect Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria. How then can we trust Russia's support for supposed peace in Syria?," she said.

    Russia's UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, said the US proposal was unbalanced.

    "We would like to remind our US colleagues and those who supported their unrealistic draft, we would like to remind you that you bear the burden of responsibility if the mechanism cannot be salvaged," he said.

    An hour or so after Russia vetoed Washington's text, a Russian draft resolution to maintain the JIM was defeated handily, receiving only four votes.

    The JIM was created in 2015 with the support of all five permanent members of the Security Council.

    Late last month, the JIM issued a report blaming the Syrian government for an April 4 incident in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, where dozens of people were reported killed by sarin gas.

    Russia has faulted the methodology used by the JIM in reaching that conclusion.

    Syria handed over its chemical weapons arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons under a 2013 accord brokered by Washington and Moscow.