News / Middle East

UN to Vote on Syria's Chemical Arsenal

The United Nations Security Council conducts a meeting on small arms, Sept. 26, 2013 at U.N. headquarters in New York.
The United Nations Security Council conducts a meeting on small arms, Sept. 26, 2013 at U.N. headquarters in New York.
Margaret Besheer
The U.N. Security Council will likely adopt a strong resolution Friday night that will set out the framework for how Syria will eliminate its chemical weapons arsenal. If adopted, the resolution would end more than two years of paralysis in the Security Council on Syria.

The breakthrough in the 15-nation council came late Thursday, when the U.S. and Russia reached agreement on the specifics of how this plan would be implemented.
The text was then circulated to the full council.

A vote is expected Friday evening. The council is waiting on a decision from the executive board of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the international body that will supervise the verification and destruction of Syria's arsenal. The Hague-based OPCW is expected to vote late Friday.

Its decision will be incorporated as an annex into the legally binding Security Council resolution.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told reporters after Thursday evening's council meeting that the proposed resolution would impose obligations on Syria's government to eliminate its 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,” she said.

Those consequences include a reference to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which makes provisions for sanctions and military action. But such action would not be automatic if Syria fails to meet its commitments, it would require the Security Council to meet and agree a new resolution with reprisals.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis more than two years ago, Russia has blocked any strong action against Syria. But British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the new cooperation in the council, spurred by the horrendous chemical weapons attack on August 21 near Damascus that killed hundreds, should make Syria's president think twice.

“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,” he said.

Meanwhile, a team of U.N. scientific experts returned to Damascus Wednesday. They are there to investigate allegations of seven other reported poison gas attacks.

The U.N. said the team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, expects to finalize its activities in Syria by Monday. They are collecting documents, biomedical and environmental samples and conducting interviews with witnesses and survivors.

In a report earlier this month, the inspectors concluded there was “overwhelming” evidence that the August 21 attack used poison gas. Western countries said their intelligence pointed to Syrian government forces as being the perpetrators, but the Assad government said its armed opponents carried out the attack.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid