Secretary Blinken’s Call with Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Alvarez

Office of the Spokesperson

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez today. Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Alvarez emphasized the important U.S.-Dominican bond formed by the over two million Americans of Dominican descent living in the United States, extensive economic ties, and a shared commitment to democracy in the region. They discussed economic and security cooperation, COVID-19 coordination, and regional issues of mutual concern. The Secretary and Foreign Minister also spoke about the importance of advancing human rights, transparency, and the rule of law throughout the region.

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Forensic chemical analysis and identification (i.e., Step 2 of Fig.1) is mature for known chemical agents. For example, investigators determined the nerve agent sarin was used in an attack on civilians in 2017. The methods can also identify new agents, as when investigators determined the chemical composition of the Novichok nerve agent after its first known use, in 2018. Forensic chemical analysis and identification methods are also mature enough to generate data that investigators could use as a "chemical fingerprint"– that is, a unique chemical signature that could be used in part to attribute a chemical weapon to a person or entity. For example, combining gas chromatography and mass spectrometry can provide reliable information about the chemical components and molecular weight of an agent. To achieve Step 3, scientists could use this these methods in a laboratory experiment to match impurities in chemical feedstocks of the weapon to potentially determine who made it. 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Finding perpetrators. Matching a chemical to its sources does not reveal who actually used it in an attack. Almost all investigations require additional evidence. Samples. Collecting a sufficient sample for attribution can be challenging, as can storing and transporting it using a secure chain of custody—potentially over great distance—to one of the 18 authorized biomedical labs worldwide. International cooperation. Lack of cooperation can delay investigations and may compromise sample quality.  Cooperation is also essential for creating an international database. Standardization. Attribution methods are complex and require standardized, internationally accepted protocols to ensure results are reliable and trusted. Such protocols do not yet exist for attributing a chemical weapons attack. 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