Chemical-Weapons Watchdog Thwarts Russian Challenge to New Rules

Russia on Tuesday lost a major challenge to the world’s top chemical-weapons watchdog, clearing the way for the organization to start naming the perpetrators behind chemical attacks. The change in rules at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, is now set to become operational next year, and will create a squad of investigators to look back at attacks for which the OPCW could not previously apportion blame. The U.S. and other Western powers staved off two challenges by Russia and one from China, victories that could transform an organization previously seen as ineffective because it could not pinpoint who was behind a lethal attack. Kenneth Ward, the U.S. ambassador to OPCW, noted the increase in chemical weapons use in Kremlin-backed Syria this year, and called Russia’s attempts to block the new rule “pungent hypocrisy.”