Russia is considering plans of handing over the samples of chemical weapons used by militants near eastern Aleppo to experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately and apparently under severe pressure of our colleagues, the leadership of this technical organization refused to meet this demand citing security grounds,” Lavrov said. “As far as I know from colleagues in the defense ministry, we are looking into the possibility to deliver ourselves the collected samples to The Hague, to the OPCW.”
“Then they will find it hard to get off,” Lavrov said, stressing that there are no doubts that the samples collected by Russian experts contain “a toxic agent.”
Lavrov said both Russia and the Syrian government guaranteed security of OPCW experts and the West’s failure to guarantee security on the part of militants “shows the lack of control over them.”
Russia’s defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Monday that experts of the Research Center for Radiation, Biological and Chemical Protection of the Russian Armed Forces continue working on collecting evidence on the use of chemical weapons by terrorists in Aleppo.
Despite the invitation for joint work, the OPCW has not so far sent its experts but this “doesn’t stop some of its representatives from pinning labels and disregarding the facts of use of chemical weapons against the civilians of Aleppo,” he said.