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Churkin: Main threat of chemical weapons use in Syria comes from armed opposition

September 27, 2013, 15:06 UTC+3

The draft resolution, according to its text, “in the strongest terms” condemns “any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic

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UNITED NATIONS, September 27 (Itar-Tass) - For Russia it is important that the agreed on draft resolution of the UN Security Council on Syria pays “major attention” to the problem of chemical weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin stated on Thursday.

The document, presented at a closed-door meeting of the Security Council members, stipulates, in particular, that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, or in any other way to get at its disposal, accumulate or store chemical weapons, as well as shall not transfer them directly or indirectly to other states or non-state actors.

“This clause had not been included there before. As we believe that in Syria the main danger of the use of chemical weapons comes from armed opposition groups, it is important for us that all these provisions have been included there,” Churkin told Russian journalists after the Security Council meeting.

The draft resolution, according to its text, “in the strongest terms” condemns “any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the August 21 attack” in the Damascus suburb Ghouta. UN inspectors have confirmed that the nerve gas sarin was used then, but have not put the blame for this on the government or the opposition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this handed him the evidence, confirming that the Syrian opposition was involved in the August 21 chemical attack. Washington until recently has claimed that it had no information that the rebels have weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution would impose “legally binding obligations” on the government to eliminate chemical weapons, said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. “And this resolution will make clear that there are going to be consequences for noncompliance,” she said.

The resolution text drafted by Russia and the United States expresses support for the Geneva Communiqué - an agreement dated June 30, 2012, which is a plan for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, demanding a ceasefire and launching of the political process. “Now nobody can complain that the Geneva Communiqué was not supported by the Security Council,” said Churkin.

The document also urges to call a second international conference on Syria (Geneva 2) as soon as possible, setting for its participants the clear-cut requirement - they “should be the authorised representatives of the Syrian people” and committed to “stability and reconciliation” in the country. According to the Russian ambassador, “this should encourage the opposition” to participate in the conference and be “a real representative of the Syrian people, and not just a group of certain people appointed in some capitals.”

The draft resolution that contains an allusion to the imposition of sanctions or the use of force in response to another use of chemical weapons is expected to be adopted as early as Friday night, New York City time (long part midnight in Moscow). However, for the adoption of the resolution, the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) should within a day approve a plan for the elimination of toxic agents in Syria.

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