Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department Mikhail Ulyanov affirmed that Russia has information that the incident in the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun last April was the result of a bomb containing poisonous sarin gas that was detonated by terrorists.
In a press conference in Moscow, Ulyanov said that the current security conditions in Syria allow international experts to visit Khan Sheikoun to investigate the incident, but they are still rejecting to do so, as has been the case for years now. This can be described as mockery of international law and a violation of the basic principles of investigations.
He added that these principles require that investigators monitor the transfer of evidence from the scene to the laboratory, while international experts investigating the Khan Sheikhoun incident obtained samples from the so-called “White Helmets”, which is no longer a neutral party in this issue.
Ulyanov pointed out that the Syrian government has not violated its obligations under the agreement with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), nor has there been a single case of chemical use by it, noting that there is a perception in the public opinion of Western countries that Syria is violating its obligations, but in fact no case has been proved and no one has found any material used in the manufacturing of chemical weapons there.
The Russian diplomat said several countries are using the crisis in Syria as a mechanism to put pressure on Damascus to achieve their political interests, resulting in a difference within the joint investigation mechanism between the OPCW and the United Nations.
“A report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism on Khan-Shaykhun and Shairat (air base) will come on October 26. We will study this report, will assess its quality and how serious was the investigation or this was once again a distance one. Then we will be able to draw conclusions, as the mandate expires in mid-November, and we will determine whether there is any sense in extending it,” the diplomat said.
“If this is a sham as it has been the case up until now, there won’t be much motivation for extending the mandate,” Ulyanov added.
“If the investigation proves to be efficient, this is a different story. So, at the moment it is premature to pass a judgment,” he said.