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

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid