RIA Novosti: Russia Dismisses US Doubts Over Syrian Chemical Arms Data

Syria Map

MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) ­ Russia considers unfounded US skepticism over the sincerity of Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapon stockpiles, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday.

US envoy to the United Nations Samantha Power said earlier this week that Washington was closely reviewing Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons stockpiles, in light of a history of “years of obfuscation in other contexts, and…a lot of broken promises in the context of this current war.”

Some US news media also cited anonymous US officials as saying there are indications that the Syrian government may try to keep part of its chemical weapons stockpile in reserve.

“These unfounded statements about Damascus hiding information could be seen at the very least as a show of disrespect for the work being done in Syria by two esteemed and authoritative organizations [the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons],” spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

Syria provided “an initial declaration” of its chemical weapons program to the OPCW in September, the organization said at that time.

Reports from a joint team of UN/OPCW officials and experts, working in Syria for over a month to oversee efforts to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, have so far praised the government of President Bashar Assad for cooperation and support in their work, Lukashevich said.

Under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States, Syria agreed in September to destroy its chemical weapons program by mid-2014 and declared 23 chemical weapons sites on its territory.

The joint UN/OPCW expert team has inspected 22 of the sites disclosed by Damascus and confirmed that all critical equipment at these sites “had been rendered inoperable.”

The next milestone for the mission will be November 15, by which time the OPCW executive council is to approve a detailed plan submitted by Syria to dispose of its chemical weapons arsenal.

US and Russian officials agreed in September that Syria possesses about 1,000 tons of chemical weapons ranging from blister and choking agents to nerve toxins like VX and Sarin, CBS News reported at that time.