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EU Ministers Approve New Chemical-Weapons Sanctions Regime


British and Dutch authorities say Russian agents tried to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in April.

BRUSSELS -- EU foreign ministers have approved a new sanctions regime targeting people and entities using chemical weapons all around the world.

The October 15 decision will allow the European Union to impose asset freezes and visa bans on people and entities for the development and use of chemical weapons, regardless of their nationality and location.

EU individuals and entities are also not allowed to make funds available to those listed.

The move follows repeated accusations of the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria and the poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury in March, which London has blamed on the Russian government.

Moscow denies any involvement in the incident.

Work on listing people under the new sanctions regime is under way.

According to the draft conclusions seen by RFE/RL of an upcoming EU summit in Brussels on October 18, the EU leaders “look forward to early progress on the listing of relevant individuals and entities.”

The summit is also due to discuss the possibility of creating another sanctions regime dealing with cyberattacks after the accusations by British and Dutch authorities earlier this month that Russian agents in April had tried to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The draft so far states that “recalling its previous conclusions concerning the Salisbury attack, the European Council condemns the hostile cyberattack operation carried out against the OPCW. Such threats and attacks strengthen our common resolve to further enhance the EU’s internal security and disrupt hostile activities of foreign intelligence networks on our territories.”

It also states that “in order to strengthen EU resilience against cyberattacks, negotiations on all cybersecurity proposals should be concluded before the end of the legislature.”

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.

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