Syria hands over details of chemical weapons to The Hague
UN core members to vote next week on plan to fast-track destruction of weapon stockpiles
The UN resolution is intended to require Syria to comply with the US-Russia accord reached in Geneva last week, which set a timetable for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to declare, secure and then eliminate his entire arsenal of chemical weapons. Photograph: Khaled al-Hariri/Reuters
Syria is believed to possess around 1,000 tonnes of chemical toxins, and has agreed to destroy them under a joint Russian-US proposal designed to avert a US strike on Syria.
“We have received part of the verification and we expect more,” an OPCW spokesman said.
A UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the details had been submitted, saying: “It’s quite long ... and being translated.”
The organisation’s core members are due to vote - probably next week - on a plan aimed at fast-tracking the destruction of Syria’s chemical stockpiles by mid-2014.
The resolution is intended to require Syria to comply with the US-Russia accord reached in Geneva on September 14th, which set a timetable for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to declare, secure and then eliminate his entire arsenal of the nerve agent sarin and other chemical weapons.
The effort encountered headwinds from Russia and China as the five veto-wielding permanent council members met for two days this week to discuss a draft resolution put forward by France, the US, and the UK.
Among the contentious issues are whether the measure will allude to a threat of force and whether it will blame Dr Assad’s regime for an August 21st chemical weapons attack near Damascus that the US says killed 1,400 people, including more than 400 children.
The timetable already has begun slipping. The three Western allies were hoping that the OPCW would approve the Geneva framework by today, a UN diplomat, who asked not to be identified to discuss the deliberations, said on Wednesday. That would have provided time for the resolution to be adopted by the Security Council on Sunday. Instead, the executive council scheduled its own meeting for Sunday.
US secretary of state John Kerry expressed impatience yesterday about the continued suggestion by Russian leaders that rebels are responsible for poison-gas attacks in Syria.
“We really don’t have time today to pretend that anyone can have their own set of facts,” he said. Without naming names, Mr Kerry rebutted comments by Russian president Vladimir Putin and his diplomats who have sided with Dr Assad in disputing what the US says is clear evidence in a UN inspectors’ report implicating government forces in the August 21st attack.
The US draws its conclusion from the quantities of sarin, the type of munitions used and the rockets’ trajectories. The facts in Syria “only grew clearer, and the case only grew more compelling” with the UN report “despite the efforts of some to suggest otherwise,” Mr Kerry said.