US has informed UN about decision to expel Russian diplomats

nsnbc : United Nations Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed on Monday that the UN was aware of the announcement by the United States’ Government to take action against certain Russian diplomats in the US. Haq also told reporters, citing the UN-US Headquarters Agreement which governs relations between the UN and the host country,  that “This action may require those members to leave the country”.

UNSC Session on March 13.

UNSC Session on March 13.

“Given the sensitivity of the matter, which is ongoing, we will not comment further at this stage other than to confirm that the Secretary-General will closely follow this matter and engage as appropriate with the Governments concerned,” UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said.

News reports suggest that the US Administration on Monday ordered the expulsion of 60 Russians from the US, following similar actions taken by other countries in the wake of the allegation by the United Kingdom that Russia was behind an attack using a deadly nerve-agent in Salisbury on March 4, which left Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, hospitalized in critical condition.

On March 14, the United Kingdom brought the charge before an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, where US Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the US stood in solidarity with the UK in denouncing the “crime” and believed Russia had been responsible for the attack.

At the same meeting, both Russia and the United Kingdom said the incident should be investigated by the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN-backed body which works to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and eliminate chemical weapons use, and the threat of their use. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which came into force in 1997, outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors.

The UK Foreign Ministry announced later that independent investigators from the OPCW were due to arrive in the UK on Monday, March 19, to kick off their probe into the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack.

Media in the US, UK, and others on one hand, and Russia  and its traditional and current allies on the other, are largely reflecting a very partisan view of the alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on behalf od Russia or by Russian agency. However, thus far, no media nsnbc is aware of nor nsnbc have received any evidence that would allow even preliminary conclusions about the incident in general and with regard to apportioning alleged guilt in particular.

Earlier this month, during a heated debate on Wednesday, March 14, at the UN Security Council (UNSC) United Kingdom reflected its apparent lack of conclusive evidence by stating that it was “highly likely” that Russia was behind an attack . The accusation was met with a firm denial from the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, who said that a letter sent by British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to the President of the Security Council, outlining the attack, constituted a “threat to a sovereign State.”

The UK Deputy Permanent Representative, Jonathan Allen, said that Russia was “in serious breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)” through its failure to disclose the existence of the Soviet-era Novichok programme – the name of the nerve agent which the UK says was used in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, in the English city of Salisbury, on March 4.

The pair were found unconscious on a bench and taken to hospital where they remain in a critical condition. The UK Prime Minister wrote to the Council on Tuesday, March 13, saying that following a “thorough investigation,” either the Russian Government was behind the attack, or alternatively, had lost control of the nerve agent to a non-State actor. Prime Minister Theresa May did not offer any evidence that could convince an objective press either, so both the UK’s and Russia’s call for an investigation by the OPCW, following established scientific protocols and rules of evidence, appear to many to be a more appropriate step than expelling diplomats prior to the presentation of conclusive evidence.

CH/L – nsnbc 27.03.2018

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