US, Russia agree on securing Syria’s chemical arsenal

The US and Russia have agreed a plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

The US and Russia have agreed a plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.

Kerry made the remarks at a joint press conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov following their three-day negotiations in Geneva, Xinhua reported.

According to the framework, Syria must submit a “comprehensive listing” of its chemical weapons stockpile within a week.

The list should include names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.

They also agreed to use extraordinary procedures under the chemical weapons convention for the destruction and verification of Syrian chemical weapons, Kerry said.

Syria must provide the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and supporting personnel with “an immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria”, he said.

Kerry said the inspectors must be on the ground by November and destruction or removal of the chemical weapons must be completed by mid-2014.

“We have committed to a standard that says, verify and verify,” he said.

“In the event of non-compliance, we have committed to impose measures under Chapter 7 within UN Security Council,” Kerry said, referring to the authorisation of both military and non-military sanctions.

Meanwhile, Sergei Lavrov said the framework was based on consensus, compromise and professionalism.

“We have achieved an aim that we had in front of us… to put under control the arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria,” he said.

He stressed that the main responsibility of ensuring of the safety of the inspectors would be up to the Syrian authorities, but the opposition should also not create threats to international personnel.

Lavrov also said the timetable for Syrian chemical weapons will be set after the UN chemical weapons body’s approval.

He added that the deal said nothing about use of force, nor any automatic sanctions.

“All violations should be approved in the UN Security Council,” he said.

Kerry said the success of the implementation of the framework would lay the ground work for further cooperation to end the more than two-year bloodshed in Syria.

“What we agreed on today could conceivably be the first critical concrete step in that direction. The US and Russia have long agreed that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria. It has to be political,” he said.

“The combination of the threat of force and willingness to pursue diplomacy helped to bring us to this moment,” Kerry said.

He said the implementation of the framework presents a “hard road ahead”.

“The world will now expect the Bashar al-Assad regime to live up to its public commitments. There going to be no games, no room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance by the Assad regime,” Kerry said.

Lavrov also said the decision they have reached today is only the beginning of the road.

The US and Russia started the crucial talks Thursday evening on Russia’s proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.


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