A senior Russian diplomat on Thursday said his nation would not accept any Syrian chemical-arms shipment to its territory under plans to subject the weapons to international monitoring and destruction, Reuters reported.
“There can be no doubt — we will not do this,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. An international treaty prohibits such transfers, and domestic legal restrictions also would prevent the United States from importing the weapons, he added in comments reported by the Russian government news agency RIA Novosti.
“We believe the destruction (of chemical weapons) on Syrian territory is the best option,” he said. Interfax quoted him as saying Russian officials “will be ready to help in guarding” Syrian chemical-arms facilities where work is being carried out.
Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington have hammered out broad parameters of a U.N. Security Council resolution on their plan to rid the Syrian government of its chemical-warfare stockpile, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The draft would allow for potential penalties in response to any noncompliance by Damascus, but the text would not contain an outright endorsement of possible military strikes.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly said his government holds weapons more potent than chemical arms, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported.
“Initially, we manufactured chemical arms in the 80s as a deterrent weapon to confront Israel’s nuclear arsenal,” the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar on Thursday quoted him as saying.
“Now, they are no longer a deterrent weapon. Today, we have more important and more sophisticated weapons that can blind Israel in a moment.”
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."