How The OPCW’s Syria Probe Censored Science

Senior OPCW officials doctored the original report; erased the conclusions of expert toxicologists who ruled out chlorine gas as the cause of death; and thwarted the key investigate area of forensic pathology, which could have helped determine how the dozens of civilian victims in Douma lost their lives.  Instead of explaining the extensive suppression, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias has avoided questions; offered false excuses; and smeared the veteran scientists who challenged the cover-up from within.

Guest: Dr. Piers Robinson. Co-Director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies, and convenor of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. Working with the Berlin Group 21, led by veteran diplomats Hans von Sponeck and Jose Bustani to seek accountability for the OPCW cover-up.

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In Syria Probe, OPCW Erased Experts’ Inconvenient Findings

In the early days of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ investigation of an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, expert toxicologists ruled out chlorine gas as the cause of death for the more than 40 civilians reported at the scene. Instead of publishing this finding, senior OPCW officials concealed it, and then launched an investigation of a veteran inspector who questioned the censorship.

The suppression of the toxicologists is among a series of deceptions by the OPCW leadership to corrupt the Douma probe’s scientific process, as detailed in this new multi-part investigation by The Grayzone. More than three years later, the high-level campaign of censorship and muzzling has mired the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog in scandal.

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Why Is OPCW Chief Fernando Arias Afraid Of His Own Inspectors?

The stated mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is to ensure “a world free of chemical weapons.” From his executive suite at The Hague, however, OPCW Director General Fernando Arias has been on a different mission: keeping the organization free of accountability for an explosive Syria cover-up scandal, and trying to silence two veteran inspectors who blew the whistle.

Arias has refused to address the manipulation of the OPCW’s probe into an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma. Back in April 2018, the US, UK and France accused Syria of dropping chlorine gas cylinders that killed dozens, and bombed the war-torn country in purported retaliation.

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Protecting The OPCW Against Transparency

On the 15th April 2021 an extraordinary event took place in the European Parliament, in Brussels. An Ireland South MEP, Mick Wallace, expressed concerns over the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) handling of an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Damascus, Syria, on the 7th April 2018, which was immediately blamed on the Syrian government prior to the OPCW investigative team securing access to the site of the reported attack. 

A “chemical attack” that led to the US, UK and French bombing of Damascus and Homs on the 14th April 2018, targeting purported “chemical weapon” research centers, a claim denied by Syrian officials and employees at the centers. 

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Ex-UK Ambassador On Syria And Propaganda

Former UK ambassador to Syria Peter Ford on how the US and its allies continue to wage war on Syria via sadistic sanctions, an illegal US military occupation, the OPCW cover-up, and media propaganda that masks the brutality.

Syria and its allies prevented regime change, but the US and its allies are continuing to squeeze Syria’s population with crippling sanctions on all aspects of civilian life and a US military occupation in Syria’s northeast breadbasket. Peter Ford, the former UK Ambassador to Syria, analyzes the state of the Syria proxy war and the ongoing propaganda campaign to whitewash it.

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Media Silence Marks Ongoing OPCW Cover-Up Of Syria Chemical Weapons Scandal

This should be a global scandal,” said journalist Aaron Maté on the suppression of evidence from experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in order to push for war in Syria. “This is the U.S. government bombing Syria based on allegations that were later found by the investigating team to be false. But then once that team came back to write their report they were pressured by the U.S. government and had their evidence censored.”

Unfortunately, it has not become a global scandal.

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Ex-OPCW Chief Jose Bustani Reads Syria Testimony Blocked At UN

Jose Bustani was invited to brief the Security Council on the OPCW’s cover-up of an investigation into an alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria in April 2018. The US, UK, and France bombed Syria after accusing the Syrian government of dropping toxic gas in Douma. OPCW inspectors later found evidence that undermined the official narrative, but were censored by their superiors under US pressure.

As the OPCW’s first Director General, Bustani experienced first-hand the costs of challenging pro-war narratives.

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OPCW Insiders Slam ‘Compromised’ New Syria Chemical Weapons Probe

We have read the first Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) April 2020 report on alleged chemical attacks at Ltamenah. We observe that, as expected, the IIT has been loyal to its raison d’être. This has gone on for too long now. What makes it worse is the IIT’s narrative has been presented to the world as a product of many peoples’ work.

In fact, a number of impartial and principled professionals no longer wish to be associated with the politically motivated reports being issued by the OPCW FFM and now the IIT. Many consider this work and these reports to be procedurally and scientifically flawed. Some of us believe they should not be seen as representing the work of OPCW inspectors at all.

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The OPCW Is Used As A Political Tool Against Syria

OPCW Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) has determined that chemical weapons have been used or likely used in Syria. The first report of the OPCW was released April 8 and points a finger at the Syrian Arab Air Force concerning 3 attacks which occurred in Ltamenah, on March 24, 25, and 30, in 2017.

The report claims the investigation team conducts its activities in an impartial and objective manner. The only reason to believe the conclusion of such a report would be the belief that the team is honest, unbiased, and has no political agenda.

There is no proof presented and the 82-page report clearly states that they are not a legal body with the authority to assign criminal responsibility. The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) Coordinator, Mr. Santiago Oñate-Laborde remarked that the investigative team has concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe a chemical was used in the attacks. 

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Four Whistleblowers Claim OPCW Is Silencing The Truth

A new Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) whistleblower has surfaced in response to a malicious and factually flawed attack by OPCW leadership on two veteran inspectors who challenged the official story of an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government in Douma. 

In a statement provided to The Grayzone, the new OPCW whistleblower described being “horrified” by the “abhorrent … mistreatment” of the inspectors. The new whistleblower also warned of a climate of intimidation designed to keep other staffers “frightened into silence.”

The official is now the fourth OPCW whistleblower to air serious concerns about the chemical watchdog’s Douma probe. The Grayzone has independently verified the official’s identity and status with the OPCW, and granted them anonymity to protect them from potential retaliation.

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The Scandal Behind The OPCW’s Report Doctoring In Douma

In 1997, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established to oversee the implementation of the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The CWC aims to achieve “a world free of chemical weapons and the threat of their use, and in which chemistry is used for peace, progress, and prosperity”[1]. The “Our Approach” segment of their mission statement notes the principles which the OPCW follow, being the centrality of the Convention’s multilateral character and the equal application of the provisions to the CWC by all parties. They further note that this work is done with integrity and is “guided and supported by the internal vision of our organization”.

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