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Iran Seeking to Protect Syria from Condemnation for Chemical Weapons Use

Iran sought to block a condemnation of Syria for using chemical weapons at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy reported [1] Wednesday.

According to Lynch:

Iran tried to block a move by the United States and Russia to present a mildly worded statement to the executive council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCM) that would have merely expressed “serious concern” about the likely use of chlorine as a weapon in Syria. The measure would also have provided the chemical watchdog’s chief with a green light to report to the U.N. Security Council on his agency’s investigation into the use of chlorine on the Syrian battlefield — something he has so far refused to do.

Syria and its allies have long sought to prevent the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions and authorize the use of military action against a U.N. member state, from meddling in its internal affairs. On Friday, and again on Wednesday, Tehran’s delegation at the OPCW headquarters in The Hague objected to the U.S. and Russian statement, which had the support of the OPCW’s executive council’s other 39 members.

Lynch explained that usually a single objection would “kill off” any declaration made by the OPCW, which prefers unanimity. The United State, however, employed “intensive diplomatic outreach” to force a public vote on the measure “thereby isolating Tehran.”

Even though OPCW has declared 98 percent of Syria’s known chemical weapons stockpile destroyed there are questions how much of stockpile Syria may have that has not been declared. Syria also reportedly has used chlorine, which is not a prohibited chemical, though its use as a weapon was banned in 1993.

It isn’t clear, even now, that any OPCW report about Syria’s chemical weapons usage will be forwarded to the Security Council. Still Iran is doing all it can to shield its ally from the consequences of violating an international treaty that it had signed.

Iran’s uranium enrichment program, started in violation of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations triggered six United Nations Security Council resolutions [2] including sanctions. Iran’s goal in the nuclear negotiations is to secure a “right” to enrich uranium [3] and remove the sanctions [4] imposed as a result of its violations.

[Photo: ABC News / YouTube [5] ]