UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia cast its 10th veto on Thursday of United Nations Security Council action on Syria since the war there began in 2011, blocking a U.S.-drafted resolution to renew an international inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Representatives of Russia and Bolivia vote in the United Nations (UN) Security Council on a bid to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S., November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonThe mandate for the joint inquiry by the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which found the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent sarin in an April 4 attack, expires at midnight Thursday. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted. The U.S. draft text received 11 votes in favor, while Russia and Bolivia voted against it and China and Egypt abstained. The April 4 sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed dozens of people prompted the United States to launch missiles on a Syrian air base. Haley warned after the council vote on Thursday: “We will do it again if we must.” “The Assad regime should be on clear notice - the United States does not accept Syria’s use of chemical weapons,” she told the council, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian ally Russia withdrew its own rival draft resolution to renew the inquiry, formally known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), after losing a rare procedural vote for its text to be considered after the council voted on the U.S. draft. Members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council vote on a U.S. bid to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria during a meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S., November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas JacksonDiplomats said the Russian draft text had little support among the 15-member council. After the council voted on the U.S. draft, Bolivia then requested that the body vote on the Russian draft resolution. It was not immediately clear how soon that vote might take place. “Russia has killed the Joint Investigative Mechanism ... Russia has undermined our ability to deter future attacks,” Haley said, accusing Moscow of “playing games” with the council’s attempt to renew the chemical weapons investigation. Russian Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Vasily Nebenzya (L) and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley speak before a meeting of the UN Security Council to vote on a bid to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria during a meeting at UN headquarters in New York, U.S., November 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson“In effect Russia accepts the use of chemical weapons in Syria. How then can we trust Russia’s support for supposed peace in Syria?” she said. Ahead of the council vote, U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday urged the U.N. Security Council to renew the inquiry, saying it was needed to prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons. While Russia agreed to the 2015 creation of the JIM, it has consistently questioned its findings, which also concluded that the Syrian government used chlorine as a weapon several times. Russia has now vetoed 10 resolutions on Syria, including blocking an initial U.S. bid on Oct. 24 to renew the JIM, saying it wanted to wait for the release two days later of the inquiry’s report that blamed the sarin attack on the Syrian government. Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.
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Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 03:32:16 IST