United Nations, Sept. 27 (Reuters): Ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock, the US and Russia agreed yesterday on a UN Security Council draft resolution that would demand Syria give up its chemical arms, but does not threaten military force if it fails to comply.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, said a deal was struck with Russia “legally obligating” Syria to give up its chemical stockpile and the measure went to the full Security Council in a closed-door meeting last night. UN diplomats said a vote could come within 24 hours.
“Just two weeks ago, tonight’s outcome seemed utterly unimaginable,” Power said. “Two weeks ago, the Syrian regime had not even acknowledged the existence of its chemical weapons stockpiles.”
“But tonight we have a shared draft resolution that was the outcome of intense diplomacy and negotiations over the past two weeks,” she said.
US, Russian, French and British diplomats told reporters the vote could come as early as Friday evening, provided the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague approves a plan for the destruction of Syria’s poison gas arsenal beforehand.
“I know that some (foreign) ministers are extending their stay in New York in order to participate in that vote,” Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters.
The agreement emerged from intense negotiations at the UN with Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chief ally. The aim was to craft a measure to require destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal in line with a US-Russian deal reached earlier this month that averted American strikes on Assad’s forces in the midst of a bloody civil war.
Western powers on the Security Council backed away from many of their initial demands, diplomats say.