U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley says Russia's involvement in a chemical nerve agent attack on British soil is a 'defining moment' for the U.N. Security Council, as one permanent member attacks another.
UNITED NATIONS – The permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council are at each other’s throats once more as the United Kingdom blamed Russia for carrying out a chemical nerve agent attack on its soil earlier this month.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley:
“If we don’t take immediate, concrete measures to address this now, Salisbury will not be the last place we see chemical weapons used. They could be used here in New York or in cities of any country that sits on this Council. This is a defining moment. Time and time again, Member States say they oppose the use of chemical weapons under any circumstance. Now, one member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member. The credibility of this Council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.”
Haley accused Russia of being behind the March 4 assassination attempt on Sergei Skripal, and told Moscow to stop complaining that it too often is picked on by other Security Council members:
“The Russians complained recently that we criticize them too much. If the Russian government stopped using chemical weapons to assassinate its enemies; and if the Russian government stopped helping its Syrian ally to use chemical weapons to kill Syrian children; and if Russia cooperated with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by turning over all information related to this nerve agent, we would stop talking about them. We take no pleasure in having to constantly criticize Russia, but we need Russia to stop giving us so many reasons to do so.”
Heightened tensions between Security Council members was on full display during a speech by Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya, who slammed the U.K. for leveling “hysterical” and “nontransparent” accusations against Moscow.
“The process of replacing the presumption of innocence with the presumption of guilt is taking place,” Nebenzya said, calling on Britain to immediately hand over samples of the chemical agent used in the Salisbury attacks. “We demand that material proof be provided of the allegedly found Russian trace in this high-resonance event. Without this, stating that there is incontrovertible proof is not something we can take into account.”
On Thursday, the U.S. levied new sanctions against Russia for interference in the 2016 election, but the Trump administration has yet to announce any punishments for Moscow’s alleged actions in the U.K.