There is relief in New York as Russia and the US have agreed on a draft resolution calling on Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons. The Security Council, which has been deadlocked since 2011 on the Syrian conflict, approved the deal late on Thursday.
Foreign ministers have changed their travel plans, as the UN expects the vote on the hard-won deal later this Friday.
“Just two weeks ago tonight’s outcome seemed utterly unimaginable. Two weeks ago the Syrian regime hadn’t even acknowledged the existence of its chemical weapons stockpiles. But tonight we have a shared draft resolution that is the outcome of intense diplomacy and negotiations over the past two weeks,” announced Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN .
The agreement does not threaten military force should Damascus fail to comply, an essential detail for the Russians. Previously, the US had pushed for stronger wording.
“It is fully in line with the frame work agreement which was reached in Geneva by (Russian) Foreign Minister (Sergey) Lavrov and (US) Secretary (of State, John) Kerry, so it took us only two weeks to bring that framework agreement to fruition,” explained Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN.
The Hague-based chemical weapons watchdog OPCW announced they will start inspecting the stockpile by Tuesday and destruction of production facilities would begin in November.
The resolution also states that those responsible for the use of such arms should be held responsible, but there is no mention of any trial at the International Court, a step back from previous drafts.