U.S-Russia Syrian Deal: An Agreement Reached Stating Assad's Chemical Weapons Must Go By Mid-2014 (Video)
Sep 14, 2013 10:49 AM EDT
The United States and Russia struck a compromise on Saturday, which allows the Syrian government its stockpile of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by next year, NBC News reported.
After a third day of talks in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian countepart Sergei Lavrov reached a deal in which Russia's primary client-state Syria "must provide a full catalog of its chemical arsenal within a week and allow United Nations inspectors to start working no later than November. The plan envisioned the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons by mid-2014," news reports said.
The deal appeared to have assuaged Russia's concerns of a potential American military strike, since even if Syria fails to fully comply, the matter will be referred to the U.N. Security Council, and does not appear that the U.S. would have any intention of acting unilaterally.
"There can be no games. No room for avoidance or anything less than full compliance," Kerry said.
The U.S. Secretary of State, who only weeks ago, said a military strike on Syria was necessary and imminent, even likening Assad to Hitler, now appears to have backed off the threat of attacking the regime, and opted for diplomacy.
Lavrov called the agreement "based on consensus and compromise and professionalism," adding, "nothing is said about the use of force or about any automatic sanctions. All violations should be approved by the Security Council."
Another major feature of the agreement is that the U.S. and Russia plan to give Syria one week, until September 21, to submit "a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and local and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities."
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon released a statement, saying that the he "welcomes the news that Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have reached an understanding regarding the safeguarding and destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles... express [ing] his fervent hope that the agreement will, first, prevent any future use of chemical weapons in Syria and, second, help pave the path for a political solution to stop the appalling suffering inflicted on the Syrian people."
On Friday, Ban Ki Moon said that Assad "has committed many crimes against humanity," in comments not meant to be public.
Skeptics of the deal, like Dina Esfandiary, research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies said, "The quick answer to can Russia's chemical weapons plan for Syria work is no, it's unlikely it will...For safety and security, but also for logistical reasons, it would be better to move agents to fewer locations, ideally, all the way out of Syria. But moving chemical agents and weapons is extremely hazardous, all the more in a context of war," she added.
"Securing Syria's chemical weapons could be done rapidly, if the international community had 75,000 troops at their disposal. But accounting for them and destroying them would take years, not months, to complete," Esfandiary continuted, as reported by the BBC.
Also skeptics say that even if chemical weapons will be eliminated, Assad will still use conventional weapons in a war that has already killed over 100,000 people, and displaced over 2 million refugees according to UN estimates.
Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is expected to announce the "overwhelming evidence" that chemical weapons were used during the Syrian civil war.
In a panel discussion on CNN's show "AC-360" journalist Christiane Amanpour expressed her moral outrage of the Obama Administration's unwillingness to militarily act in Syria.
"How many more times do we have to say that weapons of mass destruction were used?" she said. "And as bad as it is to decapitate somebody, it is by no means equal. We can't use this false moral equivalence about what's going on right now. They tried to do it in the Second World War. They tried to do it in Bosnia. They tried to do it in Rwanda and they're trying to do it now. There is no moral equivalence."
As her panelists tried to interject, Amanpour shouted "Wait just a second! The president of the United States and the most moral country in the world based on the most moral principles in the world, at least that's the fundamental principle that the United States rests on, cannot allow this to go unchecked, cannot allow this to go unchecked...I'm so emotional about this."