The White House issued a sharp rebuke directed at Russia for vetoing a U.S.-led effort to extend the life of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, which investigates incidents such as the use of chemical weapons.
The JIM panel released a report last week that concluded Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime was behind the sarin gas attack in April that killed more than 100 citizens.
“Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms,” a late-Wednesday statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
The Joint Investigative Mechanism, comprised of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, is facing an expiration in the coming weeks. Russia, who is a principal supporter of the Assad regime, had been arguing for months that the April chemical weapon attack had been staged by terrorists and, ultimately, vetoed the effort to renew the panel.
The U.S. is calling for the U.N. Security Council to extend the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism to assist identifying those who committed the attacks and to signal that chemical weapons will not be tolerated.
“Countries that fail to support the work of the independent investigators stand in direct opposition of all standards of reasonable international conduct,” the statement said. “Especially in light of the recent findings, all countries should understand the importance of the JIM’s work and that it is critical that such work continue. Our collective standards for human decency make it imperative that we do all in our power to deter such use of chemical weapons in the future.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley echoed similar sentiments when the report was released last week.
"[The] report confirms what we have long known to be true,” Haley said. “Time and again, we see independent confirmation of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime. And in spite of these independent reports, we still see some countries trying to protect the regime. That must end now.”