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OPCW independence questioned after €1 million donation from Germany

THE independence of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) came under renewed scrutiny today after it received a €1 million (£850,000) donation from Germany. 

The bumper payment, believed to be the biggest single voluntary contribution in the chemical watchdog’s history, was formalised in a ceremony with the newly reappointed director-general Fernando Arias.

Germany’s permanent representative to the OPCW, Gudrun Ligner, said that the cash would boost the training of inspectors and enable investigations and technical visits.

“The OPCW must rise to the challenge of a new era of chemical weapons threats,” the ambassador said.

The chemical watchdog has received a string of donations from member states with many, including Russia, fearing a growing politicisation of the organisation.

In October, Britain gifted £750,000 to the OPCW coffers, £100,000 of which was specifically dedicated to “identifying those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.”

The chemical watchdog has been accused of manipulating reports to suit the Syrian regime-change operations of both Britain and the United States which made an additional €165,000 (£140,000) voluntary donation to the OPCW.

France, which launched missile strikes on Damascus in April 2018 alongside Britain and the US made a €230,000 (£195,000) contribution on October 15.

Saudi Arabia donated €50,000 (£42,000) to support the construction of a new chemistry and technology centre, which it said would be “a new turning point” in its work.

The OPCW has ignored repeated appeals to send a team to investigate alleged chemical attacks by Turkey in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdish officials claim to have documented more than 300 incidents in which banned substances have been used in six months of war, with nearly 40 guerilla fighters killed as a result.

But Mr Arias has ignored official letters from the Kurdistan Communities Union.

In 2019 the OPCW was set to investigate the use of white phosphorus against Kurdish civilians in northern Syria. 

But it reversed its decision soon after receiving a €30,000 (£25,000) donation from Turkey — both parties insisted the timing was coincidental and denied suggestions of wrongdoing.

Kurdish officials questioned the independence of the OPCW and hit out over its continued silence over Turkey’s alleged war crimes.

“Chemicals are being used against Kurds right now, as those that can stop Turkey are sitting together in a comfortable building in The Hague.

“The reappointment of Fernando Arias means more of the same and shows they are not serious in protecting Kurds from chemical weapons,” the Morning Star was told.


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