News / Middle East

UN Security Council Close to Agreement on Syria Chemical Weapons Resolution

Diplomats debate military action against Syria. File photo.
Diplomats debate military action against Syria. File photo.
TEXT SIZE - +
Margaret Besheer
— On Thursday, United Nations diplomats moved closer to adopting their first resolution on Syria after the United States and Russia reached agreement on how Damascus will turn over its chemical weapons arsenal to international supervision.
 
In just over two weeks, intense diplomatic negotiations between top U.S. and Russian diplomats have brought the Security Council close to a breakthrough. Propelled by the urgency caused by an August 21 poison gas attack that the United States says killed some 1,400 people near Damascus, diplomats have agreed on a draft resolution that they say will have real consequences for the government of Bashar al-Assad if he fails to comply.
 
Late Thursday evening, the U.S. and Russia presented the full 15-nation council with the draft.
 
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said 98 percent of the world agrees that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable.
 
“Tonight the council discussed a draft resolution that will uphold this international norm by imposing obligations on Syria, on the government, to eliminate this chemical weapons program. This resolution will require the destruction of a category of weapons that the Syrian government has used ruthlessly and repeatedly against its own people. And this resolution will make clear that there are going to be consequences for non-compliance,” said Power.
 
Power also said that the resolution will help meet the U.S. goal of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons.
 
Russian Envoy Vitaly Churkin said agreement came in large part through the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who negotiated the final draft. He also said that the resolution would provide strong support for the work of the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which will supervise the dismantling of Syria’s chemical arsenal.
 
“We believe that it is something which is working very pragmatically and strongly in support of this effort of the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria,” said Churkin.
 
Diplomats said the draft resolution could be voted on as early as Friday evening, once the OPCW Executive Board has adopted a disarmament plan that will be included as an annex to the resolution.
 
For the first time, the council has stated in a resolution that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security. The resolution also condemns the August 21 attack and forbids Syria from using, producing or otherwise acquiring chemical weapons.
 
If Syria fails to fully comply with the OPCW and United Nations under the terms of the resolution, the council will seek to impose measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes provisions for sanctions and military action.
 
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said he hopes President Assad hears the message the council is sending.
 
“If President Assad felt that he could hide behind certain members of the Security Council, because there could not be unity in the Security Council, he will now need to think again,” said Grant.
 
The British ambassador also said that after the chemical weapons resolution is adopted, Britain would push very hard for council action on improving humanitarian access to areas that have been difficult to reach. 
 
Russia and China have previously used their vetoes to block three resolutions urging action on Syria.
 
It is hoped that the draft will help move the Syrian government and the opposition closer to the negotiating table.
  
More than 100,000 people have been killed and two million more have been made refugees by the Syrian crisis.

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid