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UN Security Council to Consider Syria Resolution

  • VOA News

Delegates vote on a resolution in the United Nations Security Council, Aug. 29, 2013.

Delegates vote on a resolution in the United Nations Security Council, Aug. 29, 2013.

The United States and Russia have struck a deal on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution demanding Syria give up its chemical weapons.

The 15-member body held an urgent, closed-door meeting late Thursday to consider the draft. Diplomats say a vote could happen as soon as late Friday.

Moscow, Syria's main ally, and Washington have disagreed for weeks over how to ensure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad complies with the disarmament plan.

U.S. officials praised the text as legally binding and enforceable, though it does not include an automatic trigger for enforcement if Syria does not comply, as the White House had wanted.

Instead, the draft says the Council could hold a second vote to impose measures under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, which allows for possible economic sanctions or military action.

The text says non-compliance includes "unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic," including both Assad's government and rebel forces.

President Assad agreed earlier this month to give up his chemical weapons following threats of U.S. military strikes in response to a poison gas attack on a rebel-held suburb last month that killed hundreds.

Assad denies carrying out the attack. He and his Russian allies instead say rebels trying to overthrow his government carried out the chemical attack. The U.S. says the attack killed 1,400 people.

The draft agreed to on Thursday would ban Syria from possessing chemical weapons. It also condemned "in the strongest possible" terms the August 21 attack and says the use of such weapons anywhere is a threat to international peace and security.

Though the draft's language is not as strong as the U.S. and its Western allies on the Security Council had wanted, its passage would break a two-and-a-half-year deadlock at the world body.

Russia and China, both permanent members of the Council, have already vetoed three bills that would punish Assad's government.

The conflict, which began as a mostly peaceful uprising against Assad's government, has killed over 100,000 people.