Lavrov, Kerry agree on Syria chemical arms plan

Lavrov, Kerry agree on Syria chemical arms plan
Sat Sep 14, 2013 22:20:17

Top diplomats of Russia and the United States have announced a deal on a framework for the destruction or removal of Syria’s chemical weapons by mid 2014 on the third day of their talks on the issue.

Under the plan, reached Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Larvrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has one week to hand over an inventory of its chemical weapons stockpile.

In a press conference following the agreement, Kerry acknowledged the possibility that the foreign-backed insurgents in Syria have access to some chemical weapons but said that the removal of Syrian chemical arms arsenal would end the threat of such weapons to the region.

"Providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also their neighbors," Kerry said adding that Russian and US teams of experts had reached "a shared assessment" of the existing stockpile.

Following the implementation of the plan, Syria will also become a party to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which outlaws their production and use.

According to the agreed plan, Damascus must submit within a week’s time a complete inventory of related arms, “including names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production and research and development facilities."

The Syrian government is to provide the OPCW, the UN and other supporting personnel “with the immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria.”

This is while Lavrov emphasized that security for all international inspectors on the ground should be guaranteed not only by Damascus, but opposition forces as well.

Although President Assad immediately acquiesced to the Russian-backed plan, the foreign-backed opposition militants have resisted the efforts, which have staved off Western intervention in the country.

On Saturday, the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) rejected a US-Russian deal as a “stalling tactic” and vowed to continue fighting to topple the Assad government.

"The Russian-American initiative does not concern us. It only seeks to gain time," said Salim Idriss, the US-backed chief of the FSA command.

"We completely ignore this initiative and will continue to fight to bring down the regime," he told a press conference Saturday in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

Meanwhile, as Kerry continued to make threats of military action against Syria in case the plan is not implemented according to schedule, Lavrov insisted the agreement did not include any potential use of force against Syria.

He further added that deviations from the plan, including attacks on UN inspectors, would be brought to the UN Security Council, which would decide on appropriate action.

Kerry, meanwhile, acknowledged that there is no prior agreement on what sort of UN Security Council measures may be adopted in case Syria does not comply with the plan.

The rhetoric of war against Syria first gained momentum on August 21, when the militants operating inside the country and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition claimed that over a thousand people had been killed in a government chemical attack on militant strongholds on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Syrian government categorically rejects the allegation, saying the militants carried out the attack to draw in military intervention.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.


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