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Russia urges Syria to place chemical weapons under international control

September 09, 2013, 18:40 UTC+3

Damascus could avoid military operation against it by surrendering its chemical weapons, previously said U.S. Secretary of State

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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Mikhail Klimentyev

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Mikhail Klimentyev

Moscow, September 9 (Itar-Tass) - Russia urged Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.

“We do not know whether Syria will agree to this, but if such international control over chemical weapons in that country helps avoid the strikes, we will start working with Damascus immediately,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday, September 9.

“We urged the Syrian leadership not only to come to agreement on the placement of chemical weapons storage sites under international control but also on their subsequent disposal and on [Syria’s] full accession to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,” Lavrov said. “We have already passed this proposal to Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid Muallem and expect a quick, and I hope positive,” reply,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime could avoid a military operation against his country by surrendering its chemical weapons.

“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week - turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting (of it), but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done,” Kerry said.

Lavrov said Moscow would oppose the use of force against Syria in circumvention of the U.N. Security Council.

During a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on September 5, Lavrov said the U.N. experts’ findings regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria must be submitted to the U.N. Security Council for consideration and further decision.

Lavrov and Kerry “discussed in detail the situation surrounding Syria.” The Russian minister stressed that “we reject the use of force bypassing this [U.N. Security Council] mechanism.”

Kerry again repeated the arguments stated by U.S. President Barack Obama in his remarks of August 31, in which he explained the reasons for a “limited” military operation against Syria without the U.N. approval.

Lavrov and Kerry “agreed to use existing channels for exchanging information at the level of experts,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 4 approved a resolution that will authorise the use of force against Syria.

Now the resolution passed by a 10-7 vote with one abstention is to be considered by the Senate.

Last Saturday, August 31, the draft resolution authorising the use of force against Syria was sent by the White House to Congress. On Tuesday, September 3, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee drafted its own version of the resolution. It gives 60 days for the operation in Syria from the day when the resolution is passed, and this period may be extended for 30 more days. At the same time, it prohibits the use of the U.S. Army in Syria.

The resolution says that the strikes would aim to deter potential future uses of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government and undermine its ability to use them. The document says that the strikes have to be delivered at legitimate military targets in Styria.

No later than a month after the entry into force of the resolution, the U.S. president will have to provide the Congress with an integrated government strategy aimed at achieving a negotiated political settlement in Syria.

The president will be required to send a progress report on the operation in Syria to the Congress within ten days after its start and provide updates every 20 days thereafter.

President Vladimir Putin said that the American parliamentarians “are basically trying to legitimise aggression.” “And we all have got glued to the TV screens waiting whether they will say yes or no. But there is something else to talk about, namely that this is unacceptable in principle,” Putin said.

He stressed that only the U.N. Security Council could authorise the use of force in Syria.

During an interview with Russia’s Channel One and the Association Press on September 3, the American journalist asked Putin whether Russia could agree with a military operation in Syria. The Russian president said he did not rule that out.

“But I want to draw your attention to one circumstance of principal importance: under effective international law, only the U.N. Security Council can authorise the use of force against a sovereign state,” Putin said, adding that all other reasons that “would justify the use of force against an independent and sovereign state” would be unacceptable.

Russia adheres to the principled position that the use of weapons of mass destruction is a crime, the president said. “If we have objective and accurate information as to who committed this crime [possible chemical attacks in Syria], then there will be a reaction. But let me assure you that we will assume a position of principle.”

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