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Expert: Russia and US have 50/50 chance to reach breakthrough in Syrian settlement

September 11, 2013, 17:50 UTC+3
Russia’s initiative on placing chemical weapons under international control envisions a concrete plan of action
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Photo ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Musaelyan

Photo ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Musaelyan

MOSCOW, September 11 (Itar-Tass) - Russia and the United States have the chance to reach a breakthrough in the settlement of the crisis in Syria, academician Sergei Rogov said.

Rogov, who is director of the Institute for the USA and Canadian Studies, said Russia and the US “have a fifty-fifty chance that the September 12 meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva will be successful”.

“The meeting can reach a breakthrough, but it can fail,” the academician told Itar-Tass.

Russia’s initiative on placing chemical weapons under international control envisions a concrete plan of action. Rogov said Syria had not signed the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “According to different data, the country possesses of thousands of tons of toxic agents, apart from handyhands, which are made by opponents to Bashar al-Assad. The weapons are at several storage facilities,” Rogov said.

In order to take these facilities under control an organization should be set up to implement the Convention. Moscow and Washington eliminate chemical weapons by themselves while the United States helped Russia destroy weapons of mass destruction within the Nunn-Lugar program. Syria has no facilities to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, the expert said.

“Russian and US specialists should place control over chemical arsenals in Syria because the UN has no such experience. In addition, it would be ineffective to deploy UN peacekeeping forces in Syria,” he said.

If Russia and the US agree to interact on Syrian toxic agents, Damascus will agree to place control over chemical weapons. “This will be a breakthrough in bilateral and international relations. The agreement would give an impetus to resuming Russian-US cooperation on Afghanistan, Iran, missile defense and nuclear disarmament,” Rogov said.

“It’s unreal to withdraw chemical weapons from Syria amidst the civil war. It is difficult to transport arms by air. That is why chemical arms arsenals should be placed under control and guarded. Weapons can be eliminated in several years,” the academician said.

Rogov named Russia’s initiative as “an event, which will have the long-term consequences”.

The expert said in recent years relations between Russia and the US have aggravated considerably. The propaganda rhetoric prevailed. “Russia can play a positive role for Damascus and become a turning point for resuming relations between both countries in order to change the situation to the better,” he said.

“In August US President Barack Obama yielded to pressure from the Republican Party and took a decision on the military operation. Under the US law, in order to start military actions for a period of more than 60 days, a president should gain support of the Congress. Suddenly it turned out that Obama could not have the majority of votes either in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. Liberal Democrats, most Republicans and even the spouse of Obama, Michel, came against military actions,” Rogov said.

“The American establishment took the attitude: why to fight for strange interests,” he said.

“Thus, the United States seized on Russia’s initiative: if Syrian chemical weapons are placed under international control, the military scenario will fall to the ground,” the expert said.

“Forty years ago the US faced the Vietnam Syndrome. Nowadays the Iraqi-Afghan syndrome [when most Americans don’t want to be in war] has aroused,” Rogov added.

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