Weapons inspectors are due to begin work in Syria as part of a United Nations-backed framework for eliminating the country’s chemical weapons, the Voice of America reports.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has laid out a timetable that calls for inspectors to visit all of Syria’s chemical weapons facilities within 30 days. The Syrian government must destroy the equipment used to make chemical arms by November 1, and all of its chemical weapons must be stockpiled by the middle of next year.
The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last week ordering Syria to comply with the OPCW’s disarmament plan and to give inspectors free access to all sites they deem important for that mission. Any violation could result in punishment ranging from sanctions to military action.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said on Monday that his government will fully comply with the U.N. Security Council resolution passed last week, which ordered Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program.
The minister also told the United Nations General Assembly the international community should create a nuclear-free zone throughout the Middle East.
Meanwhile, according to Russia Today, the Israeli government will consider ratifying the Chemical Weapons Convention, President Shimon Peres has announced. It follows Syria’s decision to give up its chemical arsenal. Israel, which has never publicly admitted to having chemical weapons, remains one of only six countries in the world not to have ratified the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the use or production of chemical weapons and requires signatories to destroy their stockpiles over a period of time. “I am sure our government will consider it seriously,” Peres told reporters Monday in The Hague, which is home to the OPCW – the watchdog overseeing the convention.
Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed doubts that the West will be successful in getting the Syrian opposition to take part in the ‘Geneva-2’ peace conference, which he expects to take place in mid-November. Lavrov, stressing that this needs to happen, suggested that getting “rational members” of the opposition on board is a priority, RIA Novosti reports. He said there is still a lack of clarity regarding who will participate in the anticipated peace talks, “which is a big problem.” Speaking at a Tuesday press conference in Moscow, Lavrov confirmed that a substantial number of the opposition’s commanders have broken free of Syrian National Coalition control. “While this whole business drags on, the radical, Jihadist elements of the opposition, like Al-Nusra Front and others, are gaining in strength.” The current issue we are faced with is “not to waste any more time,” Lavrov added. The success of the conference rests in the hands of those “who hold bigger sway with the opposition [than Russia]… We work with everyone, but the bigger influence on the opposition is exerted by our Western colleagues and key Middle Eastern states,” the FM stressed.