Russia vetoes US-drafted Security Council resolution on probe of chemical weapons use in Syria

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Russia on Tuesday vetoed a U.S.-drafted Security Council resolution on an investigative mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria.

Twelve of the 15 members of the Security Council voted in favor of the U.S. text, while Russia and Bolivia voted against it. The draft failed to be adopted as Russia has veto power. China abstained.

Before the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said her delegation had tried hard to incorporate Russian proposals into the draft so long as they would not compromise the impartiality of investigation.

She said the U.S. text was "the bare minimum" that the Security Council can do to respond to reports of the latest chemical attack in Douma, Syria, on Saturday.

Russia has also tabled a draft resolution for vote on Tuesday -- also on an investigative mechanism for chemical weapons use in Syria.

Haley said the main difference between the U.S.-drafted text and the Russian one is that Russia wanted to choose the investigators and assess the outcome while the U.S. text allows for truly independent investigation.

"Our resolutions are similar, but there are important differences. The key point is our resolution guarantees that any investigations will truly be independent. Russia's resolution gives Russia itself the chance to choose the investigators and then to assess the outcome. There is nothing independent about that," she told the Security Council.

"The United States is not asking to choose the investigators, and neither should Russia. The United States is not asking to review the findings of any investigation before they are final, and neither should Russia," she said.

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia, who spoke after Haley, argued that the U.S. draft prejudges the outcome of an investigation.

"Why do you need the mechanism, what do you need it for, when you have already appointed the guilty party prior to the investigation?" he asked.

Nebenzia accused the United States of pushing for a vote as a pretext for possible use of force against Syria.

"If you took the decision to carry out an illegal military adventure -- we do hope you will come to your senses, then you will have to bear responsibility for it yourselves," he warned.

Last year, the United States launched missile strikes from two Navy destroyers against a Syrian airbase after the Syrian government was said to be responsible for chemical weapons use.

"The United States is again trying to mislead the international community and is taking yet one more step toward confrontation," said Nebenzia. "It is clear that the provocation step has nothing to do with a desire to investigate what happened in Douma, Syria."

"The propaganda fire will be once again aimed at Russia (because of its veto)... We are using the veto in order to protect the international rule of law, peace and security and to make sure that you do not drag the Security Council into your adventures," said Nebenzia.

Tuesday's veto by Russia was its 12th over Security Council action against Syria since the Syrian civil war started seven years ago.

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