UN to destroy Syria's chem. weapons
Sep 27, 2013 / 7:19 pm
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday night to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1/2-year conflict.
The vote after two weeks of intense negotiations marked a major breakthrough in the paralysis that has gripped the council since the Syrian uprising began. Russia and China previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions pressuring President Bashar Assad's regime to end the violence.
"Today's historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote, but he and others stressed that much more needs to be done to stop the fighting that has left more 100,000 dead.
"A red light for one form of weapons does not mean a green light for others," the U.N. chief said. "This is not a license to kill with conventional weapons."
Russia and the United States had been at odds over the enforcement issue. Russia opposed any reference to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for military and nonmilitary actions to promote peace and security.
The final resolution states that the Security Council will impose measures under Chapter 7 if Syria fails to comply, but this would require adoption of a second resolution.
It bans Syria from possessing chemical weapons and condemns "in the strongest terms" the use of chemical weapons in the Aug. 21 attack, and any other use. It also would ban any country from obtaining chemical weapons or the technology or equipment to produce them from Syria.
Kerry stressed that the resolution for the first time makes a determination that "use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security," which sets a new international norm.
The resolution authorizes the U.N. to send an advance team to assist the OPCW's activities in Syria. It asks Secretary-General Ban to submit recommendations to the Security Council within 10 days of the resolution's adoption on the U.N. role in eliminating Syria's chemical weapons program.
"Syria cannot select or reject the inspectors," Kerry said. "Syria must give those inspectors unfettered access to any and all sites and any and all people."
Meanwhile, a group of U.N. inspectors already in Syria investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons said Friday they are probing a total of seven suspected attacks, including in the Damascus suburb where hundreds were killed last month. That number was raised from three sites previously.
The OPCW destruction plan calls on Syria to give inspectors unfettered access to any site suspected of chemical weapons involvement, even if Syria's government did not identify the location. That gives the inspectors unusually broad authority.
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