U.S. & Russia set framework for disposing Syria’s chemical weapons; Assad signs Chemical Weapons Convention
After three days of intense negotiations in Geneva, the United States and Russia settled on a framework to completely eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles by mid-2014. On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad formally signed and submitted the Chemical Weapons Convention, which will take effect on Oct. 14th.
The latest developments appeared to have averted – at least for the time being – looming U.S. military strikes against Syria, which was announced by President Barack Obama two weeks ago in response to the chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta. U.S. intelligence reports estimated that more than 1,400 people – including at least 400 children – were killed in the Aug. 21st chemical attacks in opposition-held suburbs east of Damascus.
Under the framework, the Syrian government is required to submit within one week a “comprehensive listing” of the “names, types, and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities” to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which will supervise the inspection and dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons program.
The timeline called for international inspectors to complete the on-site inspections and destroy the chemical weapons production, mixing, and filling equipments by November and the “complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014.”
The Syrian government is responsible for ensuring “immediate and unfettered” access to any inspections sites as well as for the security of the inspectors.
The U.S. and Russia will draft a United Nations Security Council resolution that will ensure the implementation of the weapons inspections and their disposals through “reviews on a regular basis”.
Should Syria fail to cooperate, the U.S. and Russia have agreed to refer any cases of non-compliance to the Security Council, which could “impose measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter” (which could include the use of military force).
“We said at the outset that to accomplish our goal, this plan had to produce transparency, accountability, timeliness, and enforceability. It must be credible and verifiable. If fully implemented, we believe it can meet these standards,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. “The world will now expect the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments. And as I said at the outset of these negotiations, there can be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime.”
Although Obama called the Geneva framework an “important, concrete step”, he said the United States remains poised to use military force should Syria fail to follow through and cooperate with international inspectors.
“While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done. The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today. And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act,” said Obama. “The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia will support renewed efforts to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 100,000 people and forced 2 million Syrians to flee to neighboring countries.
“We had talks with Lakhdar Brahimi, where we discussed the way we can, as soon as possible, to move from the deadlock these negotiations the way that the Government of Syria is doing. We’ve done and we’ve said it, and the opposition will, without any reservations, should participate without any preliminary intentions to participate in the Geneva Conference according to the communique of 2012,” said Lavrov. “The most important thing is that all parties are present on this conference, not with some special reservations, special conditions, but the way that the Syrians should decide their fate by their own – only on that important objective.”
- U.S. State Department: Remarks With Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov After Their Meeting – Sept. 14, 2013
- U.S. State Department: Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons – Sept. 14, 2013
- White House: Statement by the President on U.S.-Russian Agreement on Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons
- Russian Foreign Ministry: Framework for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons – Sept. 14, 2013
- United Nations: Secretary-General receives Syria’s formal accession to treaty banning chemical weapons
- United Nations: UN-Arab League joint envoy says US-Russia talks on Syria ‘extremely important’
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.N. Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi presses Russia on ‘political solution’ to Syrian conflict
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.S. agrees to work with Russia on U.N. resolution to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons to international control
- WhatTheFolly.com: Russia supports U.S. call for Syria to turn over chemical weapons to international community for dismantling
- WhatTheFolly.com: Senate committee passes resolution authorizing ‘limited’ military strikes against Syria
- WhatTheFolly.com: Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote to approve joint resolution to authorize military force against Syria on Sept. 4, 2013
- WhatTheFolly.com: Kerry, Hagel & Dempsey urge Senators to authorize military force in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons
- WhatTheFolly.com: Moon: U.N. inspectors working “around the clock” to complete preliminary investigation on use of chemical weapons in Syria
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama seeks congressional authorization for military strike against Syria
- WhatTheFolly.com: U.S. intel report confirms use of chemical weapons in Syria