RIA Novosti: Moscow Suspects Syrian Rebels of Holding CW Components

Syria Map

(RIA Novosti – NEW YORK, September 25, 2013) ­ Russia insists that all chemical weapons in Syria, including chemical arms components possibly held by Syrian opposition forces, should be destroyed, the Russian foreign minister said.

Speaking after a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York early on Wednesday, Moscow time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “both the Russian and the American side stressed [during the talks], that all chemical weapons in Syria should be destroyed.”

“There are serious concerns that the opposition might possess separate components of those harmful substances,” he said.

Russia’s top diplomat said the meeting with Kerry was “productive” and that Russia and the United States share a common approach to what should be done in the future.

“The talks were productive, we have a common understanding of what should be done next, and that it should be done on the basis of the framework agreement reached in Geneva,” Lavrov said.

Washington and Moscow are expected to clash at the UN General Assembly later this week over the terms of a Security Council resolution that would enforce Syria’s compliance with a US-Russian plan for the Syrian government to hand over its chemical arsenal.

The United States is calling for a resolution that would allow military action against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad should it renege on its commitments to handover its chemical stockpile to international monitors. Russia has said military threats cannot be part of the resolution.

When asked explicitly if the United States still insists that the resolution on Syria should authorize a foreign military action in case of non-compliance, the Russian minister replied only that “we are working within the framework agreed in Geneva.”

He gave no specific date when asked when the resolution is to be passed, saying that the work on it is under way.

“We expect that we will be able to agree on a UN Security Council resolution without crossing the borders outlined in Geneva, and [the resolution] will be passed shortly after members of the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] vote for the text of their decision,” he said, adding that the organization “plays a major role in these issues.”