Chemical weapons watchdog granted new power to attribute blame for attacks

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has hailed the move as a 'victory' for diplomatic efforts. Credit: PA

The finger of blame for chemical weapons use can now be pointed at individual nations by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) after members voted to give it the power to attribute responsibility.

At a special session in The Hague member states decided to increase the powers of the OPCW when they investigate the use of chemical weapons.

Previously the OPCW had only been able to identify the chemicals used and not who was responsible for their use.

This means that although Russia has been widely blamed by the UK and many other nations for the attack in Salisbury the OPCW was unable to offer an opinion on where the weapons came from and who was behind it.

While the change in the rules under which the OPCW operates will be welcome, it is expected that achieving the level required to attribute blame will be exceptionally high and not always possible.