Russia halts further chemical weapons inspectors in Syria

 In U.S.
UNITED NATIONS — Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council vote on Friday that would have continued the work of the chemical weapons inspectors in Syria charged with assigning blame for attacks against civilians that horrified the world.

The vote came one day after Russia blocked a U.S. effort to extend the inquiry for one year.

The back and forth between U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley and Russia’s U.N. envoy Vassily Nebenzia was fiery and acrimonious.

After the vote, Haley said that “Russia will not agree to any mechanism that might shine a spotlight at the use of chemical weapons by its ally, the Syrian regime…it’s as simple and shameful as that.”

“As we have long suspected, Russia does not now and has never had any intention of making this time productive for this Council,” Haley added.

Nebenzia, for his part, responded that the Thursday “meeting of the Security Council left behind a very unpleasant sludge and it focused on political content that was far from the issue of Syrian chemical weapons.”

He added, “Despite accusations that we heard today in the Council, we didn’t see much willingness to compromise on the part of our partners.”

Russia has even taken to Twitter to counter Haley accusations that his Mission was unavailable to discuss modifications to the dueling resolutions.

The failure of the Security Council vote was a rebuff to a compromise crafted by Japan, a resolution that was comprised of three simple paragraphs, intended to forge a compromise to give western powers (the U.S., France and the U.K.) more time to iron out differences with Russia, which vetoed the Thursday U.S. plan to extend the inquiry mandate for another year.

The Japan resolution, which received 12 of 15 affirmative votes, called to “renew the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, as set out in resolution 2235, for a period of 30 days, with a possibility of further extension.”

With five hours to go before the deadline expired, Sweden’s Ambassador Olof Skoog asked the Council to stay in consultations, to give the 15-member body one last chance before the mandate of the inspectors expired – but by 8pm, “fatigue” was the message from a Security Council diplomat, and closed-door consultations ended.

With the Friday vote, the U.N. failed to extend the mandate of the inspectors, who had been given a joint mandate by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the U.N. to assign blame for chemical attacks against civilians.

The Friday vote comes a day after the  U.S. and Russia circulated rival U.N. resolutions  for a second time to extend the work of experts seeking to determine who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

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