Investigation into alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria must be impartial: India

Yoshita Singh
·4-min read

United Nations, Feb 4 (PTI) India has reiterated the need for an impartial and objective investigation into any alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, saying that 'politicisation' of the issue will result in parties taking 'extreme positions', jeopardising the ongoing efforts towards any resolution.

India's Deputy Permanent Representative/Political Coordinator R Ravindra said at the UNSC meeting on Syria (Chemical weapons) on Wednesday that New Delhi encourages continued engagement and cooperation between Syria and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Technical Secretariat towards an early resolution of all outstanding issues.

'India has consistently underlined the need for an impartial and objective investigation into any alleged use of chemical weapons, scrupulously following the provisions and procedures laid down in the Convention. Any concerns should be addressed on the basis of consultation among all concerned parties,' he said.

'In our view, politicisation of the issue will result in parties taking extreme positions, jeopardizing the ongoing efforts towards any resolution,' he added.

Ravindra emphasised that India remains concerned about the possibility of such dangerous weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorist organizations and individuals.

'Terrorist groups have taken advantage of the decade long conflict in Syria to entrench themselves posing a threat to the entire region. Reports of the resurgence of ISIS in the region are being heard with increasing frequency,” he said, adding that the world cannot afford to give these terrorists any sanctuary or dilute its fight against these terrorist groups.

India said it has consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.

New Delhi has also contributed to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria through humanitarian assistance and human resource development and now stands ready to work with humanitarian relief agencies in devising a suitable vaccination relief programme for the country and the West Asia as a whole.

UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu told the Council that there is an urgent need to not only identify but hold accountable all those who have used chemical weapons in violation of international law.

Nakamitsu informed the Security Council that while the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the ability of the OPCW to deploy to Syria, the body’s Technical Secretariat continued with its activities related to the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons programme.

She also said that the OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) continues to study all available information related to allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, as well as its engagement with the Government and other States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

'As previously reported, further FFM deployments will be subject to the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic,' she added.

Ravindra added that India recognises the continuing efforts of the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT), the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) and the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) mechanisms of the OPCW, especially in these challenging times.

He welcomed the announcement that DAT intends to deploy to Syria in early February 2021 for the next round of consultations and look forward to receiving their findings. He expressed hope that the OPCW Technical Secretariat will also report the outcomes of the inspections of the facilities of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), which were conducted in November last year.

He noted that India attaches high importance to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), a unique, non-discriminatory disarmament instrument which serves as a model for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.

Under the Convention, India enjoys the unique distinction of becoming the First State Party to be declared ‘chemical weapon free’ state Party. India has provided a financial contribution of USD one million to the OPCW Trust Fund for activities relating to destruction of chemical stockpiles and related facilities in Syria.

Ambassador Richard Mills, Acting Representative of the US Mission to the United Nations, alleged that the Assad regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, and then subsequently sought to avoid accountability by obstructing independent investigations and undermining both the responsibility and work of the OPCW. PTI YAS ZH ZH ZH