France proposes new mechanism to assign blame for chemical attacks

THE HAGUE/PARIS, May 5:     Western powers are weighing a French proposal to create a new mechanism at the world’s chemical weapons watchdog that would enable it to assign blame for attacks with banned munitions, diplomatic sources told Reuters.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague currently only determines whether such attacks have taken place, not who carried them out.
A new mechanism could fulfil that role, which had been carried out since 2015 by a joint United Nations-OPCW investigation in Syria until its renewal was vetoed by Russia in November.
“On Syria everything is blocked at the U.N. Security Council and in general we are seeing repeated and systematic flouting of multilateral frameworks, including proliferation of chemical weapons,” said a senior French diplomat.
“We need a mechanism to apportion blame. Salisbury was a step too far.”
Creating a global mechanism for accountability is also seen as important due to a rising number of incidents with nerve agent since they were banned two decades ago under an international treaty.
Recent use includes the assassination with VX of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017 and the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a 66-year-old former Russian double agent, and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia, with a Novichok nerve agent in March in Salisbury, England. They both survived.
But the French proposal is also likely to meet resistance from Russia, Iran and others. (AGENCIES)