Security Council could vote on resolution on Syria's chemical arms

A resolution with binding obligations on the Syrian government to eliminate its chemical weapons program is before the U.N. Security Council, a diplomat said.

The Security Council could vote as early as Friday on the draft resolution, CNN reported.

"This resolution will require the destruction of a category of weapons that the Syrian government has used ruthlessly and repeatedly against its own people. And this resolution will make clear that there are going to be consequences for non-compliance," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said.

Power called the move significant because it is the first time since the start of Syria's civil war more than two years ago that the U.N. Security Council has imposed binding obligations on President Bashar Assad's regime.

She said council members hoped to vote as soon as Friday night after a vote in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons executive council.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is to meet Friday at its headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, the organization said in an announcement.

The key agenda item is: "Elimination of Syrian chemical weapons."

"In the wake of that [the OPCW] vote -- and we hope in the immediate wake of that vote -- we would have Security Council adoption of this text, which we are optimistic is going to be received very warmly. We're optimistic for an overwhelming vote," Power said.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Thursday he hoped the resolution would be adopted soon, "maybe even tomorrow night."

Russia, a main ally of Assad, blocked earlier anti-Syria resolutions presented to the U.N. Security Council.

A draft obtained by CNN indicates the resolution asks the OPCW director general and the U.N. secretary-general report non-compliance to the Security Council. If there is non-compliance, the council would impose measures under a Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

The resolution would not authorize the automatic use of force if Syria is said to be in violation, language that had been sought by the United States, CNN said.

The OPCW expects to dispatch an advance team of inspectors to Damascus Monday to establish a communications base and begin preparations for the inspections, an official with the organization told CNN Friday.

The United States and other Western nations blame the Syrian government for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Damascus' suburbs that U.S. officials estimate killed 1,400 people. Syria and Russia have countered that they think rebels used the weapons.

"This is a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy," a senior State Department official said of the resolution. "The Russians have agreed to support a strong, binding and enforceable resolution that unites the pressure and focus of the international community on the Syrian regime to ensure the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons."


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