US, Russia resolutions on chemical weapons use in Douma vetoed

The UN Security Council in session in New York. (Courtesy UN)
Updated 10 April 2018

US, Russia resolutions on chemical weapons use in Douma vetoed

  • Russian ambassador: “Moscow’s veto was in the interest of peace and security in the world.”

New York: Russia has vetoed the US draft resolution calling to investigate and condemn the Syrian regime for bombing Douma near Damascus with chemical weapons. The Russian veto buried one of three resolutions on the chemical weapons use in Syria that the council is due to vote on Tuesday. The Russian drafted resolution was also vetoed. Seven members of Security Council voted against the russian tabled resolution while two nations abstained.  Nikki Haley, the US permanent representative at the UN, slammed Russia for "its inclination to protect one person in Syria", referring to the Syrian President Bashar Assad. Haley said that Russia's act will be recorded in history as it is the twelfth time Russia used its right to veto draft resolutions on Syria since the beginning of the trouble in Syria seven years ago. Haley added: "Russia is obstructing any international steps on Syria at the Security Council."
A previous UN-mandated inquiry was shut down in November when Russia vetoed an extension of its mandate, slamming the investigation as flawed. The French representative at the UN said ahead of the vote: “We cannot sit idle once chemical weapons have been used in Douma close to Damascus.” 
He added that “in light of the seriousness of the abhorrant crimes committed we will not accept a smokescreen or window dressing.” The French ambassador added that “the credibility of the Security Council is at stake” if the council vetoes the resolution proposed. 
Russia did not wait long before announcing its clear intention to veto the US co-authored resolution. The Russian ambassador said: “Moscow’s veto was in the interest of peace and security in the world.” He added that Washington intends to use the resolution as a cover for its military intervention in Syria.  
US President Donald Trump on Monday warned of a quick, forceful response once responsibility for a suspected chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma on Saturday was established, thrusting Syria’s conflict back to the forefront of international concern.
A resolution at the Security Council needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States to pass. A veto can only be cast if a draft wins at least nine votes.
The key difference between the two drafts is that the US one would mandate an inquiry to lay blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, while the Russian draft would require investigators to report to the Security Council, which would then attribute responsibility.
Russia also asked the council to vote on a second new draft resolution on Tuesday that would specifically support sending investigators from the global chemical weapons watchdog to the site of an alleged deadly attack last Saturday.
“US, UK and France can prove they want to establish truth by supporting this move,” Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on Tuesday that inspectors would travel to the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma to investigate reports of the attack that killed as many as 60 people.
The Syrian government and Russia said there was no evidence that a gas attack had taken place and the claim was bogus.


Israel’s Netanyahu says he is giving up on trying to form new government

Updated 7 min 7 sec ago

Israel’s Netanyahu says he is giving up on trying to form new government

JERUSALEM: Israel’s president says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended his quest to form a new coalition — a step that pushes the country into new political uncertainty.
Netanyahu fell short of securing a 61-seat parliamentary majority in last month’s national election. But President Reuven Rivlin gave Netanyahu the first opportunity to form a government because he had more support, 55 seats, than any other candidate.
Netanyahu had hoped to form a broad “unity” government with his chief rival, former military chief Benny Gantz. But late Monday, Netanyahu announced he came up short.
Rivlin says he will now give Gantz a chance to form a government, though Gantz does not appear to have enough support either.
If Gantz fails, Israel could hold its third election in less than one year.