Britain and Russia clash over chemical weapons | News | DW | 26.06.2018
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Britain and Russia clash over chemical weapons

The UK has called for a vote to give the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW powers to identify those behind toxic attacks. The proposal seems to have sparked a bitter diplomatic battle with Russia, Iran and Syria.

A British-led proposal to grant more powers to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was opposed by Russia, Iran and Syria on Tuesday.

France, Germany and the United States backed the bid, which would give the world body powers to assign blame for attacks with toxic weapons. The OPCW currently only determines whether such attacks have taken place, not who carried them out.

Read more: What does the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW do?

Britain called the OPCW gathering after a nerve attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the British town of Salisbury in March, which Britain blamed on Russia. Russia rejected the accusation.

The international community could not "ignore breaches of chemical weapons convention," said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who added that the ban on chemical weapons should not be "eroded away."

There has been growing concern over allegations of the use of poison gases in Iraq and Syria, as well as alarm at the use of a chemical warfare agent to assassinate the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last year in Kuala Lumpur airport. 

Read more: UK says attack on ex-Russian spy Skripal undercuts chemical weapons ban

Diplomatic battle

After three hours of heated exchanges between the delegates of Russia, Syria and Iran and those of the US and Canada, the agenda was adopted. A key vote on the British draft is expected to take place Wednesday. For the draft to pass, a two-thirds majority, minus any abstentions, is needed.

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kw/rt (dpa, Reuters)

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