Minsk, Nov 21 (AFP) Russia on Wednesday accused the West of seeking to turn a key international treaty into a tool to pursue its own agenda amid a spike in tensions at the world chemical weapons watchdog. Also Read - French Teacher Beheading: Samuel Paty's Killer Was in 'Contact' With Jihadist in Syria

On Tuesday, Moscow failed in its bid to stall new powers of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to apportion blame for chemical attacks like those in Syria or Britain. Also Read - Sputnik V: World's First COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available to Public in Russia, Claim Reports

The West pushed through the new blaming powers after a string of chemical incidents in Syria, as well as a nerve agent attack on Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal in the British city of Salisbury in March. Also Read - Ladakh Tension: What Chinese Foreign Minister Told Jaishankar in Moscow During Crucial 2-hour Long Meeting?

“They are trying to turn a unique tool of international law — the Chemical Weapons Convention — into an obedient tool to promote Western policies,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on a visit to the Belarusian capital Minsk on Wednesday.

The 1997 treaty — under which nearly every country in the world pledged to give up toxic arms — led to the creation of the OPCW.

Russia’s top diplomat slammed Tuesday’s vote which saw member states approve the 2019 budget for the watchdog which includes funding for the new role.

“It’s a worrisome situation,” he said.

“A decision to give the technical secretariat the powers to identify and appoint the guilty was made through a vote by breaking the existing procedures,” Lavrov said.

He accused the OPCW member countries that supported the move of encroaching on the “fundamentals of international law” and claimed that instances of “blackmail and bribery” had taken place before the vote.

Lavrov added it was now necessary to see “how we can –and whether we can — salvage” the Chemical Weapons Convention.

It was the first time the OPCW had ever voted on the budget, after Russia and Iran, which both oppose the new attribution powers, insisted on a vote.

The OPCW also voted 82-30 against Russia’s joint plan with China to set up an “open ended” group to scrutinise how the new powers would work.(AFP) SMJ SMJ

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.