Syria Plan’s Feasibility to Face Scrutiny in U.S.-Russia Meeting

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

Rus­sia’s plan to place the Syr­i­an chem­ic­al ar­sen­al un­der out­side mon­it­or­ing and even­tu­al elim­in­a­tion will be the fo­cus of a Thursday meet­ing in Switzer­land between U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry and Sergei Lav­rov, his Rus­si­an equi­val­ent, a high-level State De­part­ment in­sider told the Wash­ing­ton Post.

En­sur­ing that Mo­scow’s blue­print would cov­er all of the coun­try’s chem­ic­al-war­fare stocks in a con­firm­able mat­ter would be among Kerry’s cent­ral ob­ject­ives in the planned Geneva ex­change with Lav­rov, who is the Rus­si­an for­eign min­is­ter, the source said.

Rus­sia’s pro­pos­al ac­tu­ally is based on an idea that Obama raised with Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin in a meet­ing more than a year ago, based on the no­tion­al concept of some­how se­cur­ing all of Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al stocks, the New York Times re­por­ted late on Tues­day.

Kerry was the first to pub­licly raise the pro­pos­al early this week in what seemed like a cas­u­al re­mark, fol­low­ing a private one-on-one about the mat­ter between Obama and Putin last Fri­day. The sec­ret­ary of State has been skep­tic­al about Syr­ia’s pos­sible chem­ic­al dis­arm­a­ment each time the sub­ject arose in the course of nine tele­phone con­ver­sa­tions he had with Lav­rov since the al­leged Syr­i­an re­gime chem­ic­al strike last month, ac­cord­ing to the Times.

U.S. policy-makers re­portedly are wary about the feas­ib­il­ity of a po­ten­tial ef­fort to cor­ral and dis­pose of the arms in the midst of Syr­ia’s civil war, now in its third year.

“We want to make sure this isn’t simply a rab­bit hole, but rather a path­way to achiev­ing our ob­ject­ive,” said a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial quoted by the Times on con­di­tion of an­onym­ity. The de­tailed Rus­si­an pro­pos­al and Syr­i­an ac­cept­ance “sug­gests this really could be a suc­cess­ful course of ac­tion, but we still have to test it,” the of­fi­cial said.

Kerry also plans to stress that Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies want a po­ten­tial chem­ic­al-dis­arm­a­ment plan to be flex­ible enough to re­act to any mis­steps by Dam­as­cus, the Post re­por­ted, cit­ing an uniden­ti­fied State De­part­ment source.

“We’re wait­ing for that pro­pos­al,” the seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said, “but we’re not wait­ing long. We will take a hard look at it, but it has to be swift, it has to be real, and it has to be veri­fi­able. . . . If the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil seeks to be the vehicle to make it hap­pen, well, then, it can’t be a de­bat­ing so­ci­ety.”

Mo­scow on Tues­day ruled out a French-draf­ted U.N. meas­ure that would al­low for an armed re­sponse to non­com­pli­ance by Dam­as­cus. For a dis­arm­a­ment deal to work, Wash­ing­ton and oth­er gov­ern­ments must “tell us they’re giv­ing up their plan to use force against Syr­ia,” Putin said.

Rus­sia might op­pose pas­sage of any Se­cur­ity Coun­cil meas­ure on the mat­ter in fa­vor of a state­ment by the body’s cur­rent head, the Post said, cit­ing re­marks re­leased by the Rus­si­an For­eign Min­istry.

In a Tues­day even­ing White House ad­dress, Pres­id­ent Obama said he was en­cour­aged the Rus­si­an dis­arm­a­ment pro­pos­al, which could call for Syr­ia to ac­cede to an in­ter­na­tion­al chem­ic­al-weapons ban. He at­trib­uted the new de­vel­op­ment, in part, to a “cred­ible threat of U.S. mil­it­ary ac­tion” in re­sponse to last month’s re­por­ted nerve gas strike, which Wash­ing­ton be­lieves to have killed more than 1,400 people on the out­skirts of Dam­as­cus.

“It’s too early to tell wheth­er this of­fer will suc­ceed, and any agree­ment must veri­fy that [Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s] re­gime keeps its com­mit­ments,” Obama said. “But this ini­ti­at­ive has the po­ten­tial to re­move the threat of chem­ic­al weapons without the use of force, par­tic­u­larly be­cause Rus­sia is one of As­sad’s strongest al­lies.”

The pres­id­ent said he “asked the lead­ers of Con­gress to post­pone a vote to au­thor­ize the use of force while we pur­sue this dip­lo­mat­ic path.”

What We're Following See More »
RELIEVES MARK TONER
Former Fox Anchor Heather Nauert to Be State Dept. Spokeswoman
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS
NOT WORRIED ABOUT BUDGET NEUTRALITY
Trump Wants to Slash Corporate Rate to 15%
8 hours ago
THE LATEST
PROMISES “MASSIVE” CUTS
Trump Tax Reform Package Coming Next Week
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Trump today said he'll be releasing his tax reformpacakge next week around the 100-day mark of his presidency. He promised that "businesses and individuals will receive a 'massive tax cut ... bigger I believe than any tax cut ever."

Source:
ONLY BROAD PRINCIPLES
Mulvaney: Tax Reform Details Won’t Be Released This Week
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Despite President Trump's announcement that his tax reform proposal would be released this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney now says it will be ready in June. This week's announcement will be limited to "specific governing principles."

Source:
DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
Pence Cuts Asia Trip Short For Big Week
13 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Vice President Mike Pence has cut his Asia trip short "to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday." Pence will return to Washington on Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday. Trump has a busy week ahead, as he plans to roll out a tax reform on framework, sign a number of executive orders, and works to keep the government open past Friday.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login