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U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria's Chemical Arms


World  (tags: 'HUMANRIGHTS!', arms agreement, conflict, Syria )

Kit
- 340 days ago - nytimes.com
The United States and Russia reached a sweeping agreement on Saturday that called for Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014 and indefinitely stalled the prospect of American airstrikes.



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Kit B. (277)
Monday September 16, 2013, 7:50 am
Photo Credit: Ruben Sprich /Reuters



GENEVA — The United States and Russia reached a sweeping agreement on Saturday that called for Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014 and indefinitely stalled the prospect of American airstrikes.

The joint announcement, on the third day of intensive talks in Geneva, also set the stage for one of the most challenging undertakings in the history of arms control.

“This situation has no precedent,” said Amy E. Smithson, an expert on chemical weapons at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “They are cramming what would probably be five or six years’ worth of work into a period of several months, and they are undertaking this in an extremely difficult security environment due to the ongoing civil war.”

Although the agreement explicitly includes the United Nations Security Council for the first time in determining possible international action in Syria, Russia has maintained its opposition to any military action.

But George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, emphasized that the possibility of unilateral American military force was still on the table. “We haven’t made any changes to our force posture to this point,” Mr. Little said. “The credible threat of military force has been key to driving diplomatic progress, and it’s important that the Assad regime lives up to its obligations under the framework agreement.”

In Syria, the state news agency, SANA, voiced cautious approval of the Russian and American deal, calling it “a starting point,” though the government issued no immediate statement about its willingness to implement the agreement.

In any case, the deal was at least a temporary reprieve for President Bashar al-Assad and his Syrian government, and it formally placed international decision-making about Syria into the purview of Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest supporters and military suppliers.

That reality was bitterly seized on by the fractured Syrian rebel forces, most of which have pleaded for American airstrikes. Gen. Salim Idris, the head of the Western-backed rebels’ nominal military command, the Supreme Military Council, denounced the initiative.

“All of this initiative does not interest us. Russia is a partner with the regime in killing the Syrian people,” he told reporters in Istanbul. “A crime against humanity has been committed, and there is not any mention of accountability.”

An immediate test of the viability of the accord will come within a week, when the Syrian government is to provide a “comprehensive listing” of its chemical arsenal. That list is to include the types and quantities of Syria’s poison gas, the chemical munitions it possesses, and the location of its storage, production and research sites.

“The real final responsibility here is Syrian,” a senior Obama administration official said of the deal.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry said that “if fully implemented, this framework can provide greater protection and security to the world.”

If Mr. Assad fails to comply with the agreement, the issue would be referred to the United Nations Security Council, where the violations would be taken up under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which authorizes punitive action, Mr. Kerry said.

Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia made clear that his country, which wields a veto in the Security Council, had not withdrawn its objections to the use of force.

If the Russians objected to punishing Syrian noncompliance with military action, however, the United States would still have the option of acting without the Security Council’s approval. “If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act,” President Obama said in a statement.

The issue of removing Syria’s chemical arms broke into the open on Monday when Mr. Kerry, at a news conference in London, posed the question of whether Mr. Assad could rapidly be disarmed, only to state that he did not see how it could be done.

Less than a week later, what once seemed impossible has become a plan — one that will depend on Mr. Assad’s cooperation and that will need to be put in place in the middle of a fierce conflict.

To reach the agreement, arms control officials on both sides worked into the night, a process that recalled treaty negotiations during the cold war.

Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov held a marathon series of meetings on Friday, including a session that ended at midnight. On Saturday morning, the two sides reconvened with their arms control experts on the hotel pool deck as they pored over the text of the agreement.
****Page one of two --- please continue reading full story

By: Peter Baker and Anne Barnard | The New York Times |

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington, and Anne Barnard from Beirut, Lebanon.

 

Lynne Willey (2)
Monday September 16, 2013, 7:52 am
I am going to hope for the best from this, I have 4 family members active duty. We need to support our troops by not sending them to war when it isn't in defense of our nation

The corporations don't care about hiring American workers or paying their fair share of taxes, let them hire their own mercenaries and stop buying politicians to misuse our troops.
 

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Monday September 16, 2013, 8:31 am
Thank you for the important newsl. Thank you, Lynne, for your familly's service and sacrifice. May you all be blessed.
 

Arielle S. (316)
Monday September 16, 2013, 8:38 am
It's a good start - can we possibly be becoming more civilized? One hopes....
 

Angelika R. (146)
Monday September 16, 2013, 10:05 am
Tx Kit, I read it all on various websites yesterday. The most remarkable sentence in the article is probably the last one..
For anyone interested in the details: The DOS placed the complete Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons on their website. Also key points repeated here:
Factbox: U.S.-Russian agreement on Syrian chemical weapons

Of course, Lindsey and McCain were fast to run their mouths again , yuck..
and I assume if there will be trouble it will come from the different rebels' side, would not surprise me at all and I cannot stand Gen. Idriss.
 

Angelika R. (146)
Monday September 16, 2013, 11:00 am
..Oh well, as for trouble, it looks the Turks were a bit faster.. I wonder about any possible response from Syria after the downing of their chopper today..
 

JL A. (275)
Monday September 16, 2013, 11:26 am
Syria did sign the UN Treaty on chemical weapons recently--that gives credence to intent on this agreement.
 

Barbara K. (88)
Monday September 16, 2013, 11:43 am
I so hope this works and that the people of Syria can be safe and that they can forge a democracy there. One that doesn't kill its citizens. Since they signed the treaty with the UN to let inspectors come in and to comply with ridding themselves of the chemical weapons, it is a step in the right direction and I do wish they could do it all sooner. A lot can happen by the end of 2014 -- too much, really.
 

Micheael Kirkbym (85)
Monday September 16, 2013, 12:23 pm
Who stands to profit from all of this? Syria is Russia's catspaw just as Iraq was and just as Iran is China's.
I think that getting rid of the chemical weapons is a great idea but what assurances do we have that Assad will faithfully comply? What assurances do we have that the rebels will comply? It has been alleged that they have had a limited supply of chemical weapons since 05/2013 and that they were responsible for setting one loose which resulted in the deaths of innocent villagers. Obama can bark all he wants to but the fact is that we don't know and the last thing he should have done was to threaten a military strike. America's assets are not threatened so the argument of national security is not relevant. Throwing away American lives for the sake of some rich bastards who own the mega corps when the nation is not threatened is unconstitutional. You do care about constitutional law don't you Mr. POTUS? What we really should be caring about is the refugee situation.
 

Gene Jacobson (251)
Monday September 16, 2013, 12:24 pm
There are those who think this was the President's intent all along. I tend to agree. In any case, getting those horrendous weapons out of Syria is wonderful. I read an article yesterday indicating we are destroying our own monstrous stockpile but because of the danger it is a very slow process. War is by definition uncivilized and there are elements who will never act according to the rules civilized nations have agreed to but destroying weapons like these so that terrorists can never get their hands on them is a good thing. A necessary thing. For the world's sake and everyone in it.
 

Marija Mohoric (50)
Monday September 16, 2013, 12:27 pm
thank you, noted
 

Laurie H. (704)
Monday September 16, 2013, 1:56 pm
Remarkable & uplifting news!!! How I sincerely hope for peace & a better understanding between all nations. Removing weapons of any kind, especially these mega chemical types, is a giant step forward. I have reservations where this evil dictator's mindset lies however----- a mass murderer is never to be trusted. So Much appreciation, Lynn for everything you and your family have done for us!! Thank you so much Kit for this important share!!~
 

Brian M. (145)
Monday September 16, 2013, 2:06 pm
For this agreement to work, foreign entities, such as the US, must stay out of the Syrian civil war. This would include refraining from supplying the jihadist opposition with weapons. Ultimately, the best plan will require both the Assad regime AND the rebel forces to surrender their chemical weapons and to sit down to negotiate a settlement to the conflict.
 

SuSanne P. (182)
Monday September 16, 2013, 4:02 pm
TY Kit. I don't want to rain on any parade, but I agree with Michael Kirby's post. I trust O'Bummer as much as Putin.
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (273)
Monday September 16, 2013, 4:26 pm
I agree with Brian Thanks Kit
 

Lois Jordan (54)
Monday September 16, 2013, 5:42 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit. So, out of massive chaos and confusion, threats of missile strikes.....we get a new signature on the UN Treaty on chemical weapons and some peace. About time! I look forward to any other episodes like this one turning out to place peace above war. As far as civil wars within countries are concerned, international consensus will determine what actions to take. Hopefully we are learning that you don't "fight fire with fire."
 

Craig Pittman (45)
Monday September 16, 2013, 5:59 pm
I add my voice to others here hoping for a successful diplomatic solution to all this.
 

John S. (300)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 2:47 am
Good news, 2 disinterested parties come to agreement that somewhere in the future we will be back to the point we just left. I guess I just trust the word "if", kind of like the Dutch "maar".
 

Riley Anderson (46)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 4:25 am
Thanks
 

Barbara D. (96)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 8:37 am
Sorry, folks, I have to agree with Mike and SuSanne ~ to certain extent. The proposed strike never had anything to do with going to war or intervening in the Syrian civil war. Mr. Obama made it very clear that he had no intention of putting boots on the ground.
This agreement sounds very nice, but does anyone REALLY believe that al-Assad will accurately report and surrender all his weapons? I qgess I'm just not as optimistic as y'all, but I think that's going to happen about as much as I think Iran and North Korea might co-operate with their nuclear weapons. And how is anyone going to police rogue leaders and governments from procuring new weapons?
Like Angelika said, let's keep an eye on what happens now with Turkey too.
 

Barbara D. (96)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 12:10 pm
Today's Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 79% of Americans approved of U.S/Russian negotiation plans ~ but only 29% thought it would be effective. ?????????????
 

David B. (14)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 1:03 pm
How hypocritical can America be?

Itself in Violation, US Grandstands on Chemical Weapons Treaty - Keeps Tons of Chemical Weapons in Kentucky and Colorado

The U.S. government keeps approximately 2,611 tons of mustard gas in a facility in Colorado, and 524 tons of a spectrum of chemical weapons--including deadly nerve agent Sarin--in a facility in Kentucky, despite commitments to have already destroyed them.

http://www.care2.com/news/member/900818492/3641370
 

Robert B. (57)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 1:04 pm
SuSanne P., That's OBAMA, not O'Bummer. You may disagree with our President but you don't have to use disrespectful name calling.
 

Robert B. (57)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 1:18 pm
Assad will comply, he has no choice. If the US strikes with missiles he will be weakened and everyone knows it. Russia is agreeing to this because they don't want to lose their puppet in that region. Putin may be weird but he's not a fool. Neither is Obama. This is a dangerous Political chess game. We can't allow ourselves to get involved in a crazy civil war where several factions are fighting each other and we cannot allow chemical weapons to be used again. I certainly trust Our President more than the various parties in this horrible game. Obama must feel like someone trying to herd cats. Talk about a thankless job.
 

Roger Garin-michaud (61)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 1:38 pm
noted, thanks
 

Diane K. (136)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 3:40 pm
Doubt Assad will totally comply, but who knows. Thanks, Kit
 

BanKNOMESPLZ D. (81)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 8:50 pm
Since ASSAD signed the agreement if he backs out the other countries may make his life a 'LIVING HELL"
Well things were checked out well and worked out, this is quite a 1st, doesn't this make you wonder about other wars?? Especially the "Weapons of Destruction"?
Thank You
 

David B. (14)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 9:29 pm
There is no proof Assad used the weapons. The US government and the mainstream media would have you believe that... They want war, not peace. It is possible that Assad used the weapons, it is also possible that the rebels used them. No matter really the greatest harm is done with bullets.... That, we must stop.
 

JL A. (275)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 10:32 pm
Given that the evidence provided to and found by the UN team could not identify or confirm who used the chemical weapons, I'm glad we are pursuing a course not dependent on believing who used them.
 

Sherri G. (111)
Tuesday September 17, 2013, 11:10 pm
Thank You Kit Noted. "Trust but Verify" let's hope this agreement is binding on Syria and Russia.
 

Barbara D. (96)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 6:04 am
David B, No, there is no infallible, absolute, concrete, indisputable PROOF that Al-ASSAD used the chemical weapons.
It was only proven that he HAD saran gas, HAD the weapons to use it, his personnel DID prepare for an attack, they DID distribute gasmasks to government troops, the rockets WERE fired from regime-controlled bases, into CIVILIAN neighborhoods that the REGIME wanted to clear of CIVILIAN rebels, and that over 4,000 CIVILIAN citizens, including some 400 children, died in the attack.
 

David B. (14)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:01 am
Barbara - America (illegally) has mustard gas,and sarin, did america do it? -- Why blame Asaad, not the US funded and armed Al queda funded 'rebels'?
 

David B. (14)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:16 am
PS... Asaad and Obama are not the flavour of the month for me. Both are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. So why is the media beating a drum for a war in Syria while the US is still sending weapons to the rebels / 'terrorists'?
 

David B. (14)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:26 am
Bullets and bombs are killing more Syrians than gas ever will. Assad, and his military must be stopped but the lame excuse that he has possibly been using chemical weapons is pathetic. More so coming from the US media who seem to have forgotten that the US military dumped millions of gallons of napalm and agent orange on innocent Vietnamese civilians.
 

David B. (14)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 11:35 am
Ex KGB Putin will never be my hero but on this occasion has prevented another absurdly unjustified American war and made Obama look like the petulant schoolboy / warmonger he is.
 

Barbara D. (96)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 1:36 pm
David B, What a ridiculous question! Because If the rebels had used gas, why did they prepare and distribute gasmasks to regime troops, how did they manage to conceal rockets and transport them to regime-controlled sites which were blockaded by regime troops, and why would they fire said rockets into their own neighborhoods, killing their own families, friends and neighbors??
The U.S. committed a despicable crime in the past, so that makes it okay for al-Assad to now commit a despicable crime. John Doe killed a man in cold blood, so now I can kill a man in cold blood. There was once an Inquisition, so now religious extremists can kill Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus ~ and fellow Muslims, for that matter..
You don't like al-Assad, Mr. Obama, or Mr. Putin. Should that be taken into consideration by world leaders?Mr. Obama made it very clear that he had no intention of putting troops on the ground in Syria.
Al-Assad must be stopped, but not by the U.S. or any other country or nation.
Am I missing something, or were your comments meant to be purely rhetorical?
 

David B. (14)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 3:52 pm
DEAR barbara. Please forgive my rushed comments, they were written in a state of sleep at 2 am Oz time. But I think the greatest thing to come from this is that Putin stopped Obama from starting yet another American war. No boots on the ground?
 

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday September 18, 2013, 6:15 pm

Things have no gone to another extreme everything wrong in the world is the fault of the United States. I don't buy that and I sure do not trust either Assad or Putin. Putin did not stop anything. It's called diplomacy, and well played by the United States.
 

David B. (14)
Thursday September 19, 2013, 12:13 am
Diplomacy American style is bomb the hell out of them. If you don't want diplomacy we will bring it on a B52 load of bombs. America is the most un-diplomatic country on the planet. It cares not about diplomacy, just killing anti-American people and establishing friends in the sky.
 

Kit B. (277)
Thursday September 19, 2013, 9:29 am

Pure hog wash. Find another cause, you are beating a dead horse. Check the news, the only bombs being dropped on Syrians are by their own people. Before you rely on more rumor and innuendo to say we are supplying weapons to the rebels, prove it with some thing more than Internet gossip.
 
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