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.
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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More