28 September 2013, 02:59

Chemical watchdog approves Syria disarmament plan

Организация по запрещению химического оружия ОЗХО Гаага

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has adopted a decision on Syria chemical arms by consensus, the UK ambassador to the UN said.

The world's chemical watchdog adopted a plan shortly before the the UN Security Council votes on a resolution including the blueprint.

"The decision is adopted and it is effective immediately," Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons spokesman Michael Luhan told journalists.

"White smoke in the Hague," British UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant announced on his Twitter feed. "OPCW decision adopted by consensus. UNSC (Security Council) can vote at 2000 (EDT)."

Talks at chemical watchdog on plans to destroy Syria chemical weapons stalled

Talks at the world's chemical watchdog on a draft plan to dismantle Syria's chemical arsenal stalled Friday, a spokesman said, and the discussion may be put off to Saturday.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' Executive Council meeting, tasked with approving a blueprint to be incorporated in a key UN Security Council resolution, will resume at 2230 GMT "or it will be postponed until tomorrow," OPCW spokesman Michael Luhan said.

The OPCW meeting comes after the US and Russia on Thursday agreed a draft UN Security Council resolution on destroying Syria's chemical weapons, breaking a prolonged deadlock.

That resolution is due to be voted on at 0000 GMT on Friday.

"One of the state parties to the resolution is... still awaiting final decisions from its capital regarding the meeting," Luhan said, declining to name the party. "There will either be a meeting tonight or there will not be, depending on whether that state party is ready to go forward."

Syria agreed for the OPCW to destroy its chemical stockpiles after the US blamed the Syrian government for a massive sarin gas attack outside Damascus on August 21 and threatened military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the OPCW document the "rules and regulations" of Syria's chemical disarmament to be enshrined in the resolution.

The 41-member OPCW Executive Council usually takes decisions by consensus, or they require a two-thirds majority vote to pass. Most Council members are national ambassadors posted to The Hague.

UNSC to vote on Syria chemical weapons resolution 8 pm (0:00 GMT)

The UN Security Council will vote late Friday on a draft resolution stipulating the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons, the French permanent mission at the UN reports on its Twitter page.

“The UN Security Council has scheduled a vote on the Syrian chemical weapons resolution for 8 pm on Friday (0:00 GMT, 01:00 BST Saturday)”, the report says.

OPCW to debate Syria chemical weapons destruction deal on Friday

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Executive Council is expected to debate a draft decision on plans to destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles at its session.

The session will begin at the organization's headquarters in The Hague at 10:00 p.m. local time on Friday, the OPCW press service said.

Russian-US draft resolution on Syria will be submitted to UNSC on Friday - Lavrov

Russia and the United States have agreed upon a draft resolution addressing Syria's chemical weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Friday.

The document will be submitted to the UN Security Council (UNSC) today, he said.

"We have fully agreed upon draft decisions that will be forwarded to the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague within the next few minutes. We have also agreed upon a Russian-American draft resolution that will be submitted to the UNSC today in order to support the decision that I hope will be adopted by the OPCW," he said.

Any side's use of chemical weapons in Syria may prompt new Security Council decision - Lavrov

Should any side in the Syrian conflict use chemical weapons in the country, the UN Security Council will look into such instances and might even adopt decisions under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

"The [draft] resolution includes the agreement reached in Geneva that if there are any violations of these [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] procedures by any side, or if chemical weapons are used by any side, only then the [UN] Security Council will revisit these instances and may be prepared to adopt decisions under Chapter 7 proportionate to the gravity of these violations," he said.

Russia, US agree on draft resolution on Syria chemical weapons - Lavrov

The draft resolution to be submitted to the UN Security Council is in line with the agreement reached between Russia and the US in Geneva and does not suggest immediate action against Syria under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, Russia’s FM Lavrov said. Voice of Russia correspondent shares the details of Sergei Lavrov's press conference which Russia's FM held after his meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

"We have reached complete agreement on the draft resolution which is now being submitted to the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague. We have also agreed on Russian-US draft resolution on Syria which will be submitted to the UN Security Council later tonight", said Lavrov during the press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's 68th session.

“The resolution which will be submitted to the UN Security Council is in line with the Geneva framework on the commitment to place Syrian chemical weapons stockpile under international control,” Lavrov said. “There will be no enforcement in line with Chapter 7.”

However, if there is any violation by any party – as the resolution also calls on the opposition to assist in the disarmament process – the Security Council will convene again and will be ready to take any enforcement measures in line with Chapter 7, Lavrov added.

According to Lavrov, the draft resolution emphasizes the need to rely on the professionalism of the OPCW experts and calls on the UN Secretary General to assist the experts in the implementation of the reached agreements.

"The resolution appeals to the UN Secretary General to assist the UN experts in all the work they perform in Syria and describes all the rules that the Syrian side has to comply with as a member of the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and as a country that has invited experts from the OPCW to take control of and ultimately destroy their chemical arsenal", Lavrov said.

"We hope that in the near future there will be a vote regarding these two documents in the Hangue and in New York", Lavrov asserted.

"Overall, I am pleased with the work we've done, and I expect that this Russian-American initiative, which has received broad support globally, will be supported in practical terms by the OPCW and the UN Security Council", Lavrov concluded.

"This is a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy," said a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "This is historic and unprecedented because it puts oversight of the Assad regime's compliance under international control."

The UN Security Council is expected to hold a closed-door consultation on the Syria draft resolution on Thursday evening, representatives of the French UN mission told Reuters.

US envoy to the UN Samantha Power also confirmed an agreement with Russia has been reached, elaborating further that the draft resolution is “legally obligating Syria to give up chemical weapons they used on their people.”

Voice of Russia, AFP, RT, Reuters, Interfax, RIA

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