UN will act if Syria breaches chemical arms obligations

(UPDATED) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the United Nations Security Council will act if Syria breached its obligations under the international convention banning chemical weapons

SYRIAN CRISIS. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during his press conference on situation in Syria, in Moscow, Russia, 26 August 2013. File photo by EPA/Maxim Shipenkov

GENEVA, Switzerland (UPDATED) – Russia on Saturday, September 14, said the UN Security Council would act if Syria breached the international convention banning chemical weapons under a deal reached with the United States to eliminate its arms stockpile.

“In the case of those demands not being fulfilled, or in the case of anyone using chemical weapons, the Security Council will take measures according to Chapter Seven of the United Nations charter,” Lavrov said at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Lavrov referred to the section of the UN charter that provides for enforcement through sanctions, including the possible use of military force, saying that the Security Council expects Syria to comply fully with the demands of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Yet he gave the proviso that the framework on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons agreed by the two sides did not specify the use of force if Damascus broke the rules.

READ: UN report will confirm Syria chemical weapons use: Ban

“If these facts are proved, the Security Council will apply measures appropriate to each concrete situation.”

“Of course, in the approaches we agreed, there is no talk of using force,” Lavrov said.

He insisted that the US and Russia had “confirmed their adherence to a peaceful resolution.”

He also cautioned that the Security Council would not accept reports of chemical weapons violations automatically but that they would be investigated.

“Of course it does not mean that each violation reported to the Security Council will be taken on trust. Each will be investigated. We will try to ensure authenticity because there is so much lying and falsification in these reports,” he said.

He warned that he had heard of attempts to “retouch” the report of UN investigators to be published on Monday on the August deaths of civilians including hundreds of children believed to have been caused by chemical weapons.

The two sides agreed to submit a draft decision to the OPCW in the next few days setting out their proposed “extraordinary procedures” for Syria.

The agreement called for the destruction of all of Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment in the first half of next year.

Lavrov stressed that the framework agreed by Russia and the United States was only a proposal but said “its significance is hard to overestimate.”

Both Kerry and Lavrov focused on the positive outcome of the talks, which ran late into the night on Friday and restarted Saturday morning.

Lavrov said he and Kerry had achieved an aim set out by Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama when they met on the sidelines of the latest G20 summit in Saint Petersburg.

“We have achieved the aim set in a conversation between our presidents on September 5 on the sidelines of the G20… about putting under international control Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons,” Lavrov said.

Putin and Obama held unofficial talks at the summit which both said were constructive although they conceded that they retained differing views on Syria.

The US and Russia have now managed to reach an agreement “in record time,” Lavrov said Saturday.

He praised the talks for coming up with a deal that was a “consensus, a compromise and professional”.  Rappler.com

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