Western Powers Seek U.N. Backing of Syria Chemical Disarmament Plan

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 16, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

The United King­dom on Monday said it would join France and the United States in push­ing the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil to “en­shrine” a U.S.-Rus­si­an plan reached late last week to de­prive Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad of his chem­ic­al-war­fare stock­piles, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted.

Brit­ish For­eign Sec­ret­ary Wil­li­am Hag­ue told re­port­ers that the glob­al com­munity is ready to hold the Syr­i­an re­gime ac­count­able if it fails to fully meet the terms of the dis­arm­a­ment blue­print un­veiled on Sat­urday. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry made fi­nal changes to the U.S.-draf­ted pro­pos­al later en­dorsed by Mo­scow, an Obama in­sider told the Post for a sep­ar­ate Monday re­port.

One gov­ern­ment in­sider said the top dip­lo­mats had “agreed to seek a strong and ro­bust [Se­cur­ity Coun­cil] res­ol­u­tion that sets pre­cise and bind­ing dead­lines with a cal­en­dar,” Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

The U.S.-Rus­si­an plan “has to be en­forced,” Kerry said on Monday. “If the As­sad re­gime be­lieves that this is not en­force­able and that we are not ser­i­ous, they will play games,” he ad­ded at a press con­fer­ence after meet­ing with Hag­ue and French For­eign Min­is­ter Laurent Fabi­us.

As­sad’s key op­pon­ents could join peace talks planned as in­ter­na­tion­al dis­cus­sion con­tin­ues on the chem­ic­al-dis­arm­a­ment plan, the As­so­ci­ated Press quoted Fabi­us as say­ing on Monday. Res­ist­ance fight­ers, though, be­lieve the ar­range­ment gives As­sad’s re­gime li­cense to in­tensi­fy oth­er kinds of at­tacks, the New York Times re­por­ted on Sunday. Con­ven­tion­al force has been chiefly re­spons­ible for killing more than 100,000 people to date in Syr­ia’s civil war.

A U.N. team on Monday said that “en­vir­on­ment­al, chem­ic­al and med­ic­al samples … provide clear and con­vin­cing evid­ence that sur­face-to-sur­face rock­ets con­tain­ing the nerve agent sar­in were used” in an Aug. 21 strike in a Dam­as­cus sub­urb, AP re­por­ted. The gassed area was held by op­pon­ents of As­sad.

Pres­id­ent Obama has said mil­it­ary ac­tion is still on the table if Dam­as­cus fails to meet its ob­lig­a­tions un­der the ar­range­ment, Re­u­ters re­por­ted. U.S. mil­it­ary forces re­main poised to at­tack Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment tar­gets in re­sponse to last month’s nerve agent strike.

Any push for armed strikes would face Rus­si­an op­pos­i­tion, but Mo­scow has in­dic­ated it could sup­port pun­it­ive U.N. ac­tions short of force over po­ten­tial mis­steps by As­sad’s re­gime, the wire ser­vice said.

The U.S.-Rus­si­an ar­range­ment re­quires Dam­as­cus with­in days to de­clare all its chem­ic­al-weapon stocks. The Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons is ex­pec­ted be­fore Decem­ber to com­plete an ini­tial on-the-ground in­vest­ig­a­tion of the ar­sen­al.

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