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Chemical weapons watchdog given extra powers after UK pressure

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson hailed the move as victory for diplomatic efforts.

Britain’s bid for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to attribute blame for attacks in Syria has been backed by the international community.

The UK’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Peter Wilson, who is also Britain’s permanent representative to the OPCW, said the measure was passed by an “overwhelming” majority of 82 to 24.

Mr Wilson tweeted: “The @OPCW voted through the UK Decision co-sponsored by 30 States that will now allow it not just to say when chemical weapons are used but by whom. An overwhelming majority to restore the taboo against CW 82 voted for 24 against.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “Chemical weapons are an affront to human dignity and have no place in the 21st century.

“The international community has quite rightly come together today to strengthen the ban on chemical weapons and prevent impunity for their use.

“The UK has led the diplomatic efforts to secure this action. We look forward to working with all countries who are members of the Chemical Weapons Convention to implement the decisions taken today, and we will continue to push back on any efforts to undermine the ban on these vile weapons.”

Russia opposed the move, saying that attribution “goes beyond the mandate of the OPCW” and claimed the organisation was now facing an “artificially created crisis”.

Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s senior director of research, said: “Amnesty International welcomes the decision allowing the OPCW to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks as a crucial step towards bringing perpetrators of war crimes to account.

“Today’s decision signals to victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and elsewhere that the international community has not abandoned them, and to perpetrators that they will be brought to justice.

“It is absolutely vital that the OPCW’s findings and evidence can now be used in international, or national, investigations and prosecutions.”

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