Syria’s Chemical-Arms Disclosure Timing in Question

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 19, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

The United States on Wed­nes­day in­dic­ated it no longer ex­pects Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s re­gime to fully dis­close its chem­ic­al-war­fare as­sets this week, an ex­pect­a­tion es­tab­lished sev­er­al days ago un­der a U.S.-Rus­si­an plan for Dam­as­cus to even­tu­ally re­lin­quish the stocks, the Los Angeles Times re­por­ted.

“Our goal is to see for­ward mo­mentum,” but not ne­ces­sar­ily a full de­clar­a­tion, be­fore Sunday, U.S. State De­part­ment spokes­wo­man Mar­ie Harf said. “We’ve nev­er said it was a hard and fast dead­line,” the spokes­wo­man ad­ded.

Sev­er­al days ago, Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry said he and Rus­sia’s top dip­lo­mat had de­cided Dam­as­cus would have one week to provide “a com­pre­hens­ive list­ing” of its chem­ic­al-weapon as­sets. Wash­ing­ton would per­mit “no games, no room for avoid­ance, or any­thing less than full com­pli­ance,” he said then.

A seni­or Rus­si­an dip­lo­mat on Wed­nes­day said Dam­as­cus “with­in a week” would send a chem­ic­al-arms de­clar­a­tion to the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons, IT­AR-Tass re­por­ted. The Rus­si­an state-owned news agency did not spe­cify wheth­er the in­form­a­tion would amount to a com­plete dis­clos­ure.

The 41-na­tion OP­CW Ex­ec­ut­ive Coun­cil is set on Fri­day to be­gin dis­cuss­ing form­al pro­ced­ures for elim­in­at­ing the As­sad gov­ern­ment’s chem­ic­al ar­sen­al, the Wall Street Journ­al re­por­ted. One ex­pert said the coun­cil is likely to ad­opt a U.S.-Rus­si­an timeline call­ing for full de­struc­tion of the stock­pile by the middle of next year, though the mul­ti­lat­er­al body is not ob­lig­ated to do so.

Sep­ar­ately, Mo­scow in­tends by Fri­day to cir­cu­late Syr­i­an-gov­ern­ment in­dic­a­tions that As­sad’s op­pon­ents have car­ried out chem­ic­al strikes, Rus­si­an Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Mikhail Bog­dan­ov said in Thursday re­marks quoted by IT­AR-Tass.

In a Wed­nes­day in­ter­view with Fox News, As­sad chal­lenged Wash­ing­ton to foot the bill for des­troy­ing the arms and “take the re­spons­ib­il­ity of bring­ing tox­ic ma­ter­i­als to the United States,” Re­u­ters re­por­ted. He also re­af­firmed deni­als that his gov­ern­ment had used its chem­ic­al arms in the Syr­i­an civil war, now in its third year.

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