US, UK, and France Block Ex-OPCW Chief’s Testimony at UN

Jose Bustani was set to deliver a statement on the Douma investigation

On Monday, at the UN Security Council, the US, the UK, France, and allies blocked testimony from a former director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Jose Bustani is a Brazilian diplomat and was the first director-general of the OPCW, which was formed in 1997.

Bustani was pushed out of the organization in 2002 by the Bush administration for his efforts to negotiate with Saddam Hussein. The Brazilian was prepared to deliver testimony to the UN Security Council on Monday over the OPCW’s investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, in April 2018.

The US, UK, and France responded to the alleged Douma attack with airstrikes on Syrian government targets. After the strike, OPCW inspectors arrived in Douma to investigate.

Since the OPCW released its final report on the alleged Douma attack in March 2019, a trove of leaked documents have surfaced. The leaks, along with whistleblower testimony, suggest the OPCW suppressed evidence and ignored the findings of senior inspectors to fit the narrative that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack in Douma.

In October 2019, Bustani attended a panel hosted by the Courage Foundation that heard testimony from an OPCW whistleblower who presented evidence that the Douma investigation was corrupted. After hearing the evidence, the panel released a statement urging the OPCW to revisit its investigation into the Douma incident.

The Grayzone published Bustani’s prepared statement that he was blocked from delivering at the UN Security Council. In his statement, Bustani urges Fernando Arias, the current OPCW director-general, to hear out the inspectors who were on the ground in Douma and had their findings suppressed:

“I would like to make a personal plea to you, Mr Fernando Arias, as Director General of the OPCW. The inspectors are among the Organization’s most valuable assets. As scientists and engineers, their specialist knowledge and inputs are essential for good decision making. Most importantly, their views are untainted by politics or national interests. They only rely on the science. The inspectors in the Douma investigation have a simple request – that they be given the opportunity to meet with you to express their concerns to you in person, in a manner that is both transparent and accountable.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.