Deal reached to disarm Syria of chemical weapons
The US and Russia have agreed to an outline of how to go about disarming the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.
The United States and Russia have reached an agreement that calls for Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.
Under a "framework" agreement, international inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November, Mr. Kerry said, speaking at a news conference with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey V. Lavrov. In addition, Syria must submit a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week.
American and Russian officials also reached a consensus on the size of Syria's stockpile, an essential prerequisite to any international plan to control and dismantle the weapons.
"If fully implemented," Mr. Kerry said, "this framework can provide greater protection and security to the world."
If President Bashar al-Assad of Syria fails to comply with the agreement, the issue will be referred to the United Nations Security Council.
Mr. Kerry said that any violations would then be taken up under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which authorizes punitive action. But Mr. Lavrov made clear that Russia, which wields a veto in the Security Council, had not withdrawn its objections to the use of force.
The joint announcement, which took place on the third day of intensive talks here, eased the United States' confrontation with Syria.
Arms control officials on both sides worked into the night, a process that recalled the treaty negotiations during the cold war.
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 as to whether Mr. Assad could rapidly be disarmed only to state that he did not see how it could be done.
"He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that," Mr. Kerry said. "But he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously."
Now, however, what once seemed impossible has become the plan -- one that will depend on Mr. Assad's cooperation and that will need to be put in place in the middle of a civil war.
Putin's victory is now complete. He didn't want a red line on the use of force. There is no red line. He didn't want Assad hauled before the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges. He won't be. He doesn't want a UN resolution that includes the threat of force. It won't. He didn't want regime change. It's now very doubtful that will happen.
In every instance above, what Obama wanted he didn't get and what Putin wanted he got. But the White House and the few Obama defenders left willing to look like idiots by praising him, are going to spin this catastrophe as a great victory.
Few will believe that.