Moscow says UN leadership's line may scuttle an investigation of using the chemical weapons in Syria

Moscow has accused the UN Secretariat of "unconstructive and inconsistent" activities threatening to scuttle an investigation into the reported use of chemical weapons in Syria on March 19.

"There is serious anxiety in Moscow over unfathomable maneuvering on the part of the UN Secretariat in organizing an investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website, www.mid.ru, on Saturday.

"As is well known, in the wake of reports on the use of toxicants in the town of Khal al-Assal, near Aleppo, on March 19, the Syrian government officially asked the UN secretary-general for an investigation into this specific incident and establish the truth," it said.

"In response to this request, the UN Secretariat sent one more letter to Syria recording an intention to investigate not only the abovementioned incident but also other information on the possible use of toxicants," the ministry said.

"It is a noteworthy fact that, before the request from Damascus, the United Nations had received no other queries concerning incidents with the possible use of chemical weapons. Moreover, the UN Secretariat is raising demands that go far beyond the framework of the investigation of the Khan al-Assal incident - for unrestricted access for experts to any facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic and to any person whom the experts would deem necessary to question, while aircraft and boats are indicated as the expert team's forms of transportation," the statement said.

"This approach is reminiscent of the line on investigation a while ago into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a line that was based on patently false information and had consequences that are generally known," it said.

"In this connection, we cannot avoid the conclusion that, under pressure from some states, the UN Secretariat is taking an unconstructive and inconsistent position and in effect torpedoing an investigation into specific and still verifiable information on the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria on March 19," the ministry said.

"We consider such action to be unacceptable and impermissible on anyone's part, particularly on the part of the leadership of the UN Secretariat, which, under the Charter of the world organization, must be impartial and objective in dealing with crisis and other disputable situations," the statement said.

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