The Six Point U.S.-Russian Deal to Fix Syria’s Chemical Weapons Problem

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Connor Simpson, Atlantic Wire
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Connor Simpson, Atlantic Wire
Sept. 16, 2013, 6:02 a.m.

The U.S. and Rus­sia agreed on a deal to elim­in­ate chem­ic­al weapons in Syr­ia des­pite their com­plic­ated re­la­tion­ship status. The deal, should it work, doesn’t ne­ces­sar­ily sat­is­fy the Syr­i­an op­pos­i­tion but it does put the most in­ter­na­tion­al pres­sure on Syr­ia since the con­flict began. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and Rus­si­an For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Lav­rov an­nounced the part­ner­ship Sat­urday morn­ing at the In­ter­con­tin­ent­al Hotel in Geneva, where they’ve been ne­go­ti­at­ing privately since Thursday. “There can be no room for games. Or any­thing less than full com­pli­ance by the As­sad re­gime,” Kerry said Sat­urday.

Here are the six im­port­ant points in the U.S.-Rus­sia jointly agreed upon six point plan:

1. Syr­ia has one week to turn over a list of its com­plete chem­ic­al weapons ar­sen­al. The U.S. and Rus­sia agree the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment has roughly 1,000 tons of chem­ic­al agents and ma­ter­i­als, the BBC re­ports.

2. Syr­ia must sign the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion, as Bashar al-As­sad has prom­ised.

3. Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons stock­pile must be placed un­der in­ter­na­tion­al con­trol by Novem­ber.

4. Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons stock­pile and all as­so­ci­ated ma­ter­i­als must be des­troyed by the first half of 2014.

5. U.N. in­spect­ors must be giv­en “im­me­di­ate, un­fettered ac­cess” to Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons sites by Novem­ber. There are al­legedly over 50 sites that hold chem­ic­al weapons in Syr­ia.

6. The U.N. will help with lo­gist­ic­al sup­port and will en­force pen­al­ties un­der Chapter VII, which al­lows sanc­tions or mil­it­ary force, should Syr­ia fail to com­ply with these guidelines. (The U.S. re­tains the right to use mil­it­ary force; Rus­sia still doesn’t think it’s a good idea.)

So that seems like a reas­on­able plan that cov­er a lot of bases and does so quickly, which is the most im­port­ant part, and elim­in­ates the pos­sib­il­ity an­oth­er chem­ic­al weapons at­tack like the one on Au­gust 21 could oc­cur. But the Syr­i­an op­pos­i­tion isn’t en­thused with this idea, that averts a po­ten­tial U.S. mil­it­ary strike against As­sad for the fore­see­able fu­ture. “There is noth­ing in this agree­ment that con­cerns us,” said Gen. Salim Id­riss, a lead­er in the Free Syr­i­an Army. He de­scribed the deal was just a Rus­si­an mech­an­ism to buy time for the re­gime, and claimed As­sad was already mov­ing his chem­ic­al weapons ar­sen­al to Ir­aq and Le­ban­on to avoid U.N. in­spec­tion. 

Does this mean the re­la­tion­ship between the U.S. and Rus­sia is now patched up, that we can ex­pect more in­ter­na­tion­al co­oper­a­tion in the fu­ture, that the whole Snowden thing is be­hind us? Of course not. There’s still the loom­ing po­ten­tial in­ter­na­tion­al in­cid­ent that is John Mc­Cain’s Rus­si­an op-ed. And parts of this deal are foun­ded on dis­agree­ment between these two coun­tries. But it’s something, for now, that seem­ingly could fix a very large prob­lem at the cen­ter of a civil war that’s not end­ing any time soon.

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from the At­lantic Wire. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

 

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