Members of global chemical weapons watchdog vote to keep Syria from getting poison gas materials

FILE - Syrians walk through destruction in the town of Douma, the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack, near Damascus, Syria, on April 16, 2018. The annual meeting of member states of the global chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023 called on countries to prevent the sale or transfer to Syria of raw materials and equipment that could be used to create poison gas and nerve agents. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
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Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The annual meeting of member states of the global chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday called on countries to prevent the sale or transfer to Syria of raw materials and equipment that could be used to create poison gas and nerve agents.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement that its annual conference “decided that the continued possession and use of chemical weapons” by Syria, and its failure to give the organization an accurate inventory of its stocks and to “destroy undeclared chemical weapons and production facilities,” have harmed the international Chemical Weapons Convention.

The decision was backed by 69 nations, while 10 voted against it and 45 nations abstained.

It calls on member states to take measures to “prevent the direct or indirect transfer to Syria of certain chemical precursors, dual-use chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment and related technology.”

Syria joined the OPCW in 2013 to ward off the threat of airstrikes in response to a chemical attack on the outskirts of the country’s capital.

Damascus denies using chemical weapons. However, an investigative team at the OPCW that seeks to identify forces responsible for using chemical weapons has found evidence indicating repeated use of chemical weapons by Syria in the country’s grinding civil war.

Other member nations of the Hague-based OPCW suspended Damascus’ voting rights at the organization in 2021 over the attacks.

In August, U.N. deputy disarmament chief Adedeji Ebo told the Security Council that Syria had failed to provide the OPCW with a full accounting of its program, citing “gaps, inconsistencies and discrepancies” in its declaration to the organization.

Thursday’s decision also calls on the organization’s members to “provide support and assistance in connection with criminal investigations or criminal proceedings to national and international accountability efforts,” the OPCW said.