Russia ready to help destroy Syria chemical arms

Russia ready to help destroy Syria chemical arms
Thu Sep 19, 2013 22:18:20

Russian defense minister has announced Moscow’s willingness to assist with destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal if allowed by the international community.

If Moscow is tasked with a role of transporting or eliminating such weapons, “naturally Russia will participate,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared Thursday while speaking to reporters, according to a RIA Novosti report.

Shoigu further noted that his country is in possession of adequate resources to eliminate such weapons.

“This is a big, serious job. We are only taking the first steps,” he said, adding that it has not yet been decided whether the weapons would be destroyed on site or sent to facilities abroad.

Everything will go according to an established procedure, Shoigu said in northwest Russia on the sidelines of the annual Valdai discussion of national issues, a gathering that brings together many of the country’s top officials.

The Russian defense minister further emphasized that there were no existing plans to deploy Russian Special Forces to Syria, noting that chemical-weapons experts may be deployed to the Arab nation in efforts to assist in bringing that arsenal under international control.

The development comes as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pledged on Wednesday to destroy his chemical weapons arsenal, saying in an interview with American broadcaster Fox News that the process would take nearly a year.

Following three days of intense negotiations, Russian Foreign Ministr Sergei Lavrov and his American counterpart John Kerry announced an joint plan on Saturday under which the Syrian government’s entire chemical arsenal would be placed under international control by November and destroyed by mid-2014.

Under the Lavrov-Kerry agreement, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will work out a special plan for Syria’s chemical weapons and the plan will be enforced through a UN Security Council resolution.

UN inspectors said Monday that they had found “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used in an August 21 attack that killed hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb Ghouta.

The inspectors, however, had no mandate to determine who had launched the attack, which Damascus and Moscow have described as a provocative measure by foreign-backed militants to incite a US-led military action against the Syrian government.


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