Commentary of the Permanent Mission of Russia on the «Arria-formula» meeting of the UN Security Council members on 20 January 2020
On 20 January 2020 the Russian Federation organized an «Arria-formula» meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation around the OPCW report on the incident in the city of Douma, Syrian Arab Republic, on 7 April 2018.
At the event UN Member States were provided with information of the Russian experts that clearly demonstrated the staged nature of that incident. Participants of the meeting listened to a video message by Ian Henderson, a former member of the OPCW Inspectorate who was part of the OPCW Fact Finding Mission (FFM) on-site inspection team in Douma. His testimony showed that the FFM Final Report on Douma was prepared by members of the OPCW Technical Secretariat who have not even visited the location of the incident. The Final Report contradicted the initial draft report as well as the consensus opinion of the original Douma inspection team that there were no signs of a chemical attack. The initial report was «shelved» while all of the OPCW inspectors that have visited Douma were dismissed from any further work on the Final Report. Having conducted an engineering and ballistic analysis of the incident Ian Henderson became even more convinced in his opinion that there was no chemical attack. He called to not politicize this issue, but continue the relevant discussion in a strictly scientific and engineering dimension.
Similar conclusions were reached by independent and reputable international experts from the «Courage Foundation», which put into doubt the conclusions of the Final Report with respect to chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics and witness testimonies. They clearly state that information was suppressed in order to reach preordained conclusions and that enormous pressure was exerted upon OPCW inspectors comprising the FFM Douma team. UN Member States and the UN Secretary-General were acquainted with the «Courage Foundation’s» analysis of the situation.
Malpractices that transpired during the meeting deal a detrimental blow to the very foundation of the work by the OPCW and call for immediate attention by the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Russian Federation on its part will do all it can to restore trust, seriously undermined recently, in the work of the Organization. Further ignoring the current situation in the OPCW is unacceptable. Continued practice of denial of solid testimonies, arguments and facts, including the laws of physics and chemistry, and evading a dialogue at the pretext of indisputability of the Final Report conclusions, may lead to unpredictable consequences for the OPCW.