The United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons joint investigative mechanism's (JIM) head has spoken with Sputnik about the investigation into the chemical weapons use in Syria.
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – JIM's head Edmond Mulet told Sputnik on Tuesday that countries should act in a united front to stop such incidents as the use of chemical weapons from happening instead of using the chemical files for their own political gains, stressing that attempts to influence the Mechanism’s work has come from direct contact with [UN Security] Council members.
“We are pulled from one side and then from the other, telling us how to do our business. If you don’t do it this way you have no credibility, if you don't follow our instructions because we are a member of the P5 [Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council] then we will not accept your conclusions,” Mulet said.
Khan Sheikhoun Chemical Attack
On October 26 JIM presented its report on the probe to the Security Council. According to the document, the government of Syria’s President Bashar Assad was responsible for the April 4 sarin attack. The panel also blamed the Daesh terror group (banned in Russia) for using sulfur mustard in Syria in September 2016.
Commenting on the report, Edmond Mulet told Sputnik that visiting the site of the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack could bring some additional value, but evidence collected by the JIM is solid and corroborated.
"We are very confident in the two cases [Khan Sheikhoun and Umm Hawsh]. It would have been some value going there but nothing that would really determine or change all the elements that we already have," Mulet said.
Mulet has also responded to Moscow's calls to conduct an on-site investigation as the JIM probe lacks answers to key questions, saying that the situation in Khan Sheikhoun was and still remains very difficult, with a number of military clashes there.
He added that he did not think anybody from his team would volunteer to go there, nor would it really be necessary in light of evidence received by the Mechanism.
Mulet has also touched upon the fact-finding issue, saying that the Khan Sheikhoun incident in Syria should change the existing procedure.
"If there is a new mandate, to give the authorization to the JIM to conduct its own investigation in parallel or simultaneously as the OPCW Fact-Finding mission. In that sense, we would really advance and we would win time instead of waiting for their result in order for us to start working," Mulet said on Tuesday.
As per its existing mandate, the Mechanism launches its investigation once it receives a report from the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission. Mulet advocated for changing this practice citing the case of Syria's Khan Sheikhoun, when such a report was only received on June 29, meaning that time was lost before JIM could start its investigation.
The report on the chemical attack in Syria "relies on the findings" of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) in Syria that was published in June following the investigation into the incident. The mission revealed that the victims had been exposed to sarin, a toxic substance, or a sarin-like substance.
The FFM did not send its staff directly to the site, but completed the probe by conducting interviews, collecting evidence and samples, such as video footage of the incident and hair from a dead goat found at the scene.
The FFM also specified that it was unable to "implement a complete chain of custody, by the team, for samples from source."