Sanctions resolution on chemical weapons use in Syria vetoed

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The Security Council took a vote on a draft resolution aiming to impose sanctions on Syria for the use of chemical weapons. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

A UN Security Council resolution which would have established sanctions in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria was vetoed by permanent members Russia and China on Tuesday.

The resolution would have set up a committee and panel of experts to hold accountable those found to have used chemical weapons during the course of the country's brutal civil war, which began in 2011.

Matthew Wells reports.

Reports issued last year by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), mandated by the Council, found that the Syrian government had carried out three attacks using banned weapons, along with one use of mustard gas by the ISIL terrorist group.

The resolution would have imposed sanctions on a number of individuals and entities linked to the Syrian government, and a draft was originally circulated in mid-December.

 UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft criticized Tuesday's veto, saying that Russia and China had supported the imposition of measures against any of the warring parties in a 2013 resolution, if it was established they had used chemical weapons.

"By vetoing this resolution today they have undermined the credibility of this Council and of the international rules for preventing the use of these barbaric weapons. This wasn't a political text; it was a technical resolution in response to an impartial and factual report by the Security Council-mandated, joint UN-OPCW investigative mechanism. It was a report we all called for. It was an investigation we all supported."

Speaking on behalf of Russia, Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told the Council his government was sceptical about the conclusions reached by the UN Mechanism, or JIM, that the Syrian regime led by President Assad had carried out chemical attacks.

"We have the clear impression that the co-sponsors of the document put to a vote today were using the JIM for just one goal, and that is to lay blame of on the government of Assad for the use of chemical weapons, and in so doing create additional grounds to change regime in Damascus."

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'44"

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