Assad’s government must submit a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons stocks within a week; this is to come ahead of their transfer and destruction, US Secretary John Kerry said at a joint press conference with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov.
The deal worked out between Moscow and Washington on settling the Syria crisis stipulates that Syria’s chemical weapons will be rapidly destroyed.
Kerry said the Syrian government should provide the UN with full access to its chemical sites, and insisted that the plan to remove the chemical arsenal should be transparent. It remains undecided which side or country will actually work at destroying the stock; the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will have to look into that.
On the timetable, Kerry said UN inspectors must be on the ground no later than November, while the destruction of chemical weapons must be completed by the middle of 2014. It remains undecided which country will actually do the work of destroying the chemical weapons.
“Providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also their neighbors,” Kerry said adding that Russian and US teams of experts had reached “a shared assessment” of the existing stockpile and that Syria must destroy all of its weapons. It was possible that the Syrian rebels have some chemical weapons, he acknowledged.
If Damascus fails to comply with the plan, a response in accordance with UN Charter Chapter 7 will follow, Kerry said, in a reference to the use of military force. The chapter provides for “action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security” in the event other measures fail.
But Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said the deal did not include any potential use of force against Syria. He however said that deviations from the plan, including attacks on UN inspectors, would be brought to the UN Security Council, which would decide on further action.
There is no prior agreement about what form the Security Council’s measures might take if Syria does not comply, Kerry said.
Both the Syrian government and opposition forces in the country will be responsible for the safety of UN inspectors, Lavrov said.
The closing remarks mark the end of three-day negotiations between Kerry and Lavrov. Earlier the parties stated the only solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis lies within the framework of the “Geneva-2” peace talks. Russian President Vladimir Putin also recently said the proposal could only succeed if the US and its allies calls off military strikes.
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