Secretary of State Kerry took pains to make clear yesterday, that while the framework for this prospective resolution may be an ambitious goal, there are timelines that are attached to it.
“Our agreement today strengthens the OPCW – the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons Executive Council decision to use the Chemical Weapons Convention extraordinary procedures in order to ensure full implementation.
In the event of noncompliance, we have committed to impose measures under Chapter 7 within the UN Security Council.
One of the stated goals withing the framework is that “the inspectors must be on the ground no later than November. And the goal is to complete the destruction and removal – and/or removal by halfway through next year, 2014.”
There is also a specific agreement between Russia and the United States that should any noncompliance on the part of Syria would rise to the level of accountability that would entail additional debate within the Security Council under Chapter 7 and that the Security Council should impose commensurate measures.
Although it is not normal Chemical Weapons Convention procedure, the resolution would specifically include the provision that there is to be “UN administrative and logistical support to the OPCW for inspections and destruction,” and that the inspectors have “unfettered access” as part of this process so that it covers both verifiability and accountability.
”I think the President sending me here and directing me to work with my counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, as President Putin sent him here, indicates that both presidents believe the preferred route, which I think is the preferred route of most of the citizens of the world, is to find a peaceful solution to these kinds of conflicts. And that’s what I think we have worked in good faith to try to do here today."
In his turn, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the two men reached consensus partly due to conversations that took place at the G20 Leaders Meeting in St. Petersburg on August 5, 2013:
“I just want to state that it’s a decision based on a consensus and a compromise and professionalism. And we have achieved an aim that we had in front of us, in front of our presidents when they talked on the 5th of September, on Friday, in the margins of the G-20 in St. Petersburg, and that later was announced, just not long ago, on the 8th of September, in – on Monday, and the aim is to resolve the solution to put under international control the arsenals of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Acknowledging that the discussion proceeded in a timely fashion, Mr. Lavrov noted that they had focused as professionals in order to try to forge a way to have the international community assume stewardship of the chemical weapons arsenal in Syria, in the “furtherance of its destruction.”
Importantly, the Foreign Minister also calls upon all of the people of Syria and their likeminded allies to look to the prospect of a resolution to the conflict:
“In our proposals, we noted that the main responsibilities will bear the Syrian authorities. But not only them, also other Syrian parties. The opposition should respond to not creating threats to international personnel. And of course, the international personnel must gain the necessary authority.”
It would seem to be in the interests of all parties to continue on the path to a diplomatic resolution.
Having recently learned from Damascus of Syria’s decision to join the Convention on Chemical Weapons, Mr. Lavrov noted the readiness of Damascus to make this kind of formal commitment.
Explaining further about the procedure for moving forward toward the presentation of a formal resolution, from the basic framework that has now been agreed upon between Russia and the United States, Foreign Minister Lavrov said:
“We have agreed on the mutual steps that our delegations are going to do in – within the organization, OPCW, according to the procedures of it are enlisted in the CWC, that permit operatively and without any delays, without any difficulties, to resolve the objectives of destruction of chemical arsenals.
We hope that the members of the Executive Committee of the OPCW will share our approaches, the Russian approaches and the American approaches, and to adopt a decision on measures about the chemical weapons in Syria.
We also agreed that we need the support of the activity of OPCW and the Security Council UN, especially on the matters that go beyond the OPCW. And I would like to mention a very important thing of ensuring the safety of work of inspectors.
So, this is – all has to be, in detail, worked out. But the most important thing is the responsibility to – not to put into threat of the personnel is the responsibility of every party, without exclusion.
And we also agreed that any violations of procedures that would be approved by the Executive Committee of the OPCW concerning the arsenal of chemical weapons, as well as any facts of applying these chemical weapons, would be looked in the Security Council. And if they are approved, the Security Council will take the measures – required measures, concrete measure – and we have agreed on that.
This agreement goes with those decisions that have been achieved in G-8 in Lough Erne in June of this year, and in these decisions it’s underscored our common approach of non-admissibility of the chemical weapons – of use of chemical weapons by anyone, and the necessary information available to the Security Council.
Foreign Minister Lavrov also indicated that the two gentlemen had discussions with Lakhdar Brahimi, an International Envoy from Syria, on the prospects of moving forward and that the opposition, too, should participate.
Evidently, both Russia and the United States share the opinion that the Syrian people must resolve their differences on their own; and as soon as possible.
Support for this resolution framework is welcomed from not only from many countries, but "all the countries of the world. Noting that Mr. Kerry had thanked France and Great Britain particularly, for their assistance in this crisis, and that Russia is ready to work with them and to work with the Security Council.
Mr. Lavrov also remarked about the process of coming to consensus:
And this agreement, which needs universal mechanisms, insurance – but we have agreed on it in very brief time, and we – and it shows that when there is a voluntary – that where there’s a will, when we have intent of the states, when we have friendly relations, Russia and the United States can get results on the most important problems, including the weapons of mass destruction problem.
And the successful realization of this agreement will have meaning not only from the point of view of the common goal of liquidating and destructing all arsenals of chemical weapons, but also to avoid the military scenario that would be catastrophic for this region and for the international relations on the whole. And here, with my colleague John Kerry, we have strictly approved our commitment of the regulation situation in Syria.
Finally, Mr. Lavrov explained that a resolution on chemical weapons in Syria represents a significant step in for the Middle East. The notion that Russia and the United States could agree to a way forward for a conference in coordination with the Organization for the Prevention of Nuclear Weapons and the United Nations, which had been hoped for in 2012; and at this point, everyone who has any influence on the parties who should participate in such a conference, should exert that influence toward that "important objective," which is so crucial to nonproliferation, can be ultimately resolved.
The full text of both Mr. Lavrov's remarks and Mr. Kerry's remarks is available at the website for the U.S. Department of State.
Today, September 15, CNN reports that Syria's National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar was quoted in Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying:
"We welcome these agreements. On the one hand, they will help Syrians come out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they prevented the war against Syria by having removed a pretext for those who wanted to unleash it."