Liar, Liar, Chemicals On Fire: OPCW Chief Dodges Syria Probe Questions, Refuses To Answer Them In Public Hearing

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Liar, Liar, Chemicals On Fire: OPCW Chief Dodges Syria Probe Questions, Refuses To Answer Them In Public Hearing

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OPCW chief Fernando Arias was asked a series of direct questions at the United Nations in regard to the alleged cover-up of the Syria chemical weapons investigation.

Arias “somehow” managed to evade answering a single question that was asked.

The meeting took place on December 11th, 2020.

The entire meeting can be seen in the video above, and how Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia bombards Arias with questions which he simply and plainly refuses to answer.

While refusing to answer any questions, the OPCW chief in turn shifted the blame, criticizing Syria for failing to declare a chemical weapons production facility and respond to 18 other issues.

Arias said, seven years after Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, its initial chemical declaration has unresolved “gaps, inconsistencies, and discrepancies” and “still cannot be considered accurate and complete.”

He simply entirely blamed Syria, but didn’t say anything in regard to the questions posed regarding the OPCW’s inconsistencies.

He told the virtual meeting that one of the 19 outstanding issues is a chemical weapons production facility that President Bashar Assad’s government said was never used to produce weapons, but where the OPCW gathered material and samples indicating “that production and/or weaponization of chemical warfare nerve agents took place.”

Arias said the OPCW had requested Syria to declare the exact types and quantities of chemical agents at the site but got no response.

“In April 2020, an OPCW investigation blamed the Syrian air force for a series of chemical attacks using sarin and chlorine in late March 2017 on the central town of Latamneh. Arias said in late October that Syria failed to meet a 90-day deadline set in July to declare the weapons used in the attacks on Latamneh and to disclose its chemical stocks.”

What could it disclose when it has said from the get-go it had nothing of the sort? This is established by the fact that Nebenzia outlined, as stated in the UN’s report on the matter:

“The Russian Federation’s representative reminded the Council members that Syria joined OPCW, made its initial declaration of chemical weapons stockpiles and subsequently got rid of them — a fact confirmed by OPCW on numerous occasions.  Such a development brought about hope that allegations of Damascus using chemical weapons against its own population have become a thing of the past.  Gradually, things changed, he said.  Western Council members consistently stepped up pressure on Damascus and made serious accusations against the Government mostly based on the video footage from social media and questionable accounts of witnesses on the ground relayed through abroad-based Syrian opposition and non-governmental organizations like “White Helmets”.  There is no doubt that OPCW plays an important role, but it is widely used by Western colleagues to support claims that Syria has used chemical weapons on several occasions.”

Russia’s Nebenzia accused the OPCW of backing Western nations who tried “in vain” to topple Assad’s government with the help of opposition groups.

“And they maintain this anti-Syrian narrative despite all the discrepancies or counter evidence presented by Syria, Russia and independent experts and exploit these allegations in their political crusade against Assad government,” he said.

Nebenzia posed eight detailed questions to Arias, alleging the OPCW used double standards, didn’t maintain the “chain of custody” of evidence, and attempted “to turn a blind eye” to 200 tons of chemical weapons precursors missing in Libya “while in parallel pressuring Syria to explain the `disappearance’ of even tiny amounts of chemical substances.” He also questioned why concerns by inspectors allegedly weren’t considered by the OPCW.

Arias refused to answer these questions in an open session and continued in a closed one.

The video below shows the Gray Zone’s Aaron Mate who comments on the situation, and recalls that many of Nebenzia and others’ concerns regarding the OPCW came from detailed investigations by the Gray Zone with established facts and sources.

He then contrasted the Gray Zone’s investigations from those of the Bellingcat “investigative website.”

It can also specifically be seen in Fernando Arias’ statements that he was entirely disenfranchised in answering any questions, at all: he had a document that was drawn up and he was simply reading from it, without having even memorized what he was supposed to say, then refused to elaborate on anything further.

He was simply reading the script.

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