Elimination of Chemical Arms Begins in Syria

Published Tuesday, Sept.10, 2013/2.35 p.m. Update Saturday, Oct.6 2013 8.10 p.m. CEST

Dismantling of alleged more than 1,000 tones of sarin, sulphur mustard and other banned chemicals believed are stocked inside various facilities inside Syria started Sunday Oct.6 2013.

“The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons has begun, international monitors have said. The operation is being overseen by a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW”), reports BBC in the article Syria chemical arms removal begins, underlying that: “It is the first time the OPCW – based in The Hague – has been asked to oversee the destruction of a chemical weapons armoury during a conflict”.

The operation starts on the basis of U.N. resolution voted by 15 members of Security Council after agreement reached between the USA and Russia.

“The Syrian government gave details of its chemical weapons arsenal last month to the OPCW under the Russia-US agreement which also provided for Damascus to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. That arsenal is thought to include more than 1,000 tonnes of sarin and the blister agent sulphur mustard among other banned chemicals”, reports BBC.

Video:courtesy of AP YouTube Account.

After a month of diplomacy, 15 members of the U.N. Security Council voted late Friday on a resolution that will foster and ask of Syria to destroy its chemical weapons.

“Today’s historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time. For many month I have said that the confirm use of chemical weapons would require a firm, united response, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

According to the U.N. News Center,”through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2118 (2013), the Council called for the speedy implementation of procedures drawn up by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) “for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme and stringent verification thereof.”

The U.N. resolution on Syria, agreed among 15 members underlines, not party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons.”

Agreement on the resolution came after the agreement reached earlier between the USA and Russian foreign ministers, State Secretary John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“The U.N. resolution was based on a deal struck this month between the United States and Russia that averted an American military strike over allegations the Syrian government used sarin nerve gas in an August 21 attack on a Damascus suburb that U.S. officials said left at least 1,400 people dead.The resolution did not authorize the automatic use of force if Syria is said to be in violation, as was previously sought by the United States”, reports CNN.

The USA President Barack Obama welcomes the framework reached on September 14,2013 by the United States and Russian Federation on the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a timely manner underlying the eyes of the “international community expects the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments”, the White House announced today after talks in Geneva. For the President of the USA, there is a lot of work to be done.  President Obama greeted the agreed USA-Russian framework, although he says if this not results in further progress, USA is prepared to act.

“If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act”, says President Obama.

Committed to resolve potential  chemical weapons threats, President Obama says: “the United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today”.

The USA State Secretary John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and their chemical weapons experts teams concluded three days talks in Geneva, Switzerland with framework for elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons, published in the media press release the USA State Department on Saturday, September 14, 2013.  

Both countries agree on the amount and type of chemical weapons involved and expects within a week from Syria detailed information on quantity of chemical weapons and listings of locations of storage, production and research and development facilities. The goal is to reach final removal and destruction of the threats of Syria’s chemical weapons by the first half of next year. The following is the timetable for the steps agreed in Geneva by the USA and Russia.

Kerry, Brahimi, Lavrov

“We set ambitious goals for the removal and destruction of all categories of chemical weapons related materials and equipment with the objective of completing such removal and destruction in the first half of 2014”, stressed the USA State Department in the written statement following the talks in Geneva.

The following is the timetable for the steps agreed in Geneva by the USA and Russia.

A. Completion of initial OPCW on-site inspections by November.

B. Destruction of production and mixing/filling equipment by November.

C. Complete elimination of all chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of 2014

According to the document, Syrians need to provide immediate and unfettered right to members of Organization for prohibition of chemical weapons,  United Nations and supporting personnel to inspect cites in Syria. This right of inspectors should be ensured with additional mechanism proposed by the USA and Russia inside the OPCW and  UN Security Council.

Overall, the decision should address timetable for as soon as possible destruction of Syrian chemical weapons facilities for development and production of these weapons, aside the process of elimination of actual amount of those weapons.

What are the aims and targets for destruction in Syria, agreed by the USA and Russia in the past three days.

  1. Production equipment

2. Mixing and filling equipment

3. Filled and unfilled weapons and delivery systems

4. Chemical agents (unweaponized) and precursor chemicals. For these materials, they will pursue a hybrid approach, i.e., a combination of removal from Syria and destruction within Syria, depending upon site-specific conditions. They will also consider the possibility of consolidation and destruction in the coastal area of Syria.

5. Material and equipment related to the research and development of chemical weapon

The plan agreed enter to the scene after Tuesday night when the United States President Barack Obama asked of members of the Congress to postpone the vote on authorization on limited strikes in Syria giving the time to diplomacy, although he have “ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails”. After giving the interviews to several media networks in the USA, President Obama last night addressed the nation from the White House.

“It is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort we can stop children to be gassed to death and than make our children safer over the run, I believe we should act”, stated President Obama giving the address to the nation on Tuesday evening, underlying he is giving more time to diplomacy to seek for a possible solution.

“I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin.  I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control”, stated President Obama.

Although, President Obama stressed that if “fail to act”, Assad’s regime will continue use of chemical weapons.

“As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them”, stated President Obama, emphasizing that over time “our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield”.

Referring to alleged chemical attacks by the Assad regime with chemical weapons conducted on  August 21, 2013 in Damascus suburbs, he stressed when dictators commit atrocities”, they “depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory”.

For President Obama, what allegedly happened in Syria is “undeniable fact”. Quote: “The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it.  Because what happened to those people — to those children — is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security”, pointed out President Obama addressing the nation.

On Tuesday morning the United Stated Senate floor delayed voting on resolution on use of force authorization on Syria by the USA military voted by the Senate Foreign Relation Committee last week with ten to seven voices last week.

“Senators agreed after meeting with President Obama on Tuesday that they would wait to consider a resolution to authorize the use of U.S. military force against Syria to allow surprise diplomatic efforts to play out in the coming days”, reports the Washington Post in their article Senators, Obama want to delay Syria vote.

With no specific information about date on Senate’s vote on Syria resolution,  Social Media accounts on Tuesday night published the USA State Secretary John Kerry will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland in a new round of diplomatic efforts, as Russia opposes previous steps on building resolution among permanent members of U.N. Security Council on Syria, after alleged attack in Damascus suburbs happened on August 21, 2013. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov suggested on Monday steps for disarmament in Syria.

For the Associated Press. “Obama, who was to deliver a national address on Syria later Tuesday, cautiously welcomed the proposal. But he said the U.S. is still prepared to go ahead with strikes if it falls through. He reached back into history — and the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union — to underline the need for enforcement”.

“The key is, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, that we don’t just trust, but we also verify,” Obama told CBS. “The importance is to make sure that the international community has confidence that these chemical weapons are under control, that they are not being used, that potentially they are removed from Syria and that they are destroyed.”, publishes AP in an article Questions of enforcement casts cloud on Syria plan. 

Couple of hours before Senate floor could vote on the resolution, the USA President Barack Obama will address the nation from the White House. Although, it is not only the Senators voices, President Obama requires.

At the end of the day, President Obama needs Congress support on the authorization of use of force in Syria to make the case on use of alleged chemical weapons attack with more profound support from American people representatives.

In the past days, key members of the Obama’s administration and former high ranking officials of American government explained again the points for limited strike campaign on Syria. And most of them point toward expectations Congress would vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s request on authorization of force in Syria.

In a more than 40 minutes speech on Monday September 9, White House National Security Adviser, Susan Rice says: “President Obama has asked Congress for their support as the elected representatives of the American people, because he knows that investing the legislative branch in our policy choices helps ensure the maximum potency and sustainability of U.S. policy”.

With all reserve among public opinion in the USA, Rice underlines possible intervention in Syria will not be an “open-ended” campaign and the goal is not ‘topple Assad or to effect regime change”.

“Doing so would require a much larger and sustained military campaign, putting American forces in the center of this civil conflict. And, as President Obama has made clear, it is neither wise nor necessary to do so”, clarified Rice as National Security Adviser to the President.

In order to downscale the echoes of the war’s in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rice notified this action will not be nothing similar, underlying current determination of the President Obama to not include or interfere inside the Syrian civil war with American troops.

“There will be no American boots on the ground—period. Nor would it resemble Kosovo or Libya, which were sustained air campaigns. This will not be an open-ended effort. As the President has said, again repeatedly, this action would be deliberately limited in both time and scope”, stated his National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Former USA Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly stated after the meeting with the President Obama on Monday she will continue to support his efforts and she hopes “the Congress will as well”. Former State Secretary Clinton who left the post after Obama’s reelection on the second therm stated three points are at the hearth of “the decision our country and Congress has to make in the days ahead.

Statement of Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Syria on September 9, 2013.Courtesy of White House YouTube Account

According to Clinton and as President says, “Assad’s regime inhumane use of weapons of mass distraction against innocent man, women and children violates universal norm, international community cannot ignore Assad’s regime stockpiles chemical weapons, whether they are used against Syrian civilians or transferred to Hezbollah or stolen by other terrorist, and that broader conflict in Syria is a threat to regional stability and security of our allies and partners.

She greets diplomatic efforts that can deal with chemical weapons stockpiles of Syria, although Clinton cannot see this as a another step of delaying.  She thinks Russia has to support international community efforts or it will be accountable.

“If the regime surrender its stockpiles to international community, as was suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians that would be an important step”, but “this cannot be another step for delay”, stated Clinton.

Both, Rice and Clinton emphasized the USA will support the diplomatic efforts and Geneva talks on Syria that were started by international community in Geneva in June 2012, although after limited strike campaign.

White House National Security Adviser, Rice points out: “During our discussions in St. Petersburg, we sensed more urgency among key players to bring the parties to the negotiating table to jump-start a political transition. The United States shares that sense of urgency, and our intention is to renew our push for the UN-sponsored Geneva process following any limited strikes”.

According to the latest poll of United Technologies and National Journal, “a solid 55 percent majority said the U.S. should do nothing and stay out of the Syrian civil war. Just 21 percent endorsed the option Obama prefers, launching “a limited military strike, using only air power to punish Syrian government for using chemical weapons.

Earlier on Tuesday morning, Foreign MInster of France, Laurent Fabious stated that France will submit to the U.N. resolution that will condemn quote “massacre of 21 August committed by the regime and to point the light on the Syrian programs on chemical weapons”.

Transcript to Framework for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons: http://1.usa.gov/1evPfiH

Transcript to Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Syria: http://1.usa.gov/1efeHcc


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