Chemical Weapons Watchdog to Start Syria Inspections Soon – Lavrov
MOSCOW, September 28 (RIA Novosti) – Experts from the world's chemical weapons watchdog will depart for Syria soon to inspect the country's chemical weapon stockpiles, Russia's foreign minister has said.
A team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) "is departing for Syria in the coming days to take under control the stockpiles in rapport with the Syrian authorities," Sergei Lavrov said in the interview with Channel One, published on the ministry's website on Saturday.
Lavrov said the OPCW experts will play a "key role" in resolving Syria's chemical weapons issue, while the UN will provide assistance to ensure security of the team that will investigate the sites declared by Damascus.
"The Syrian government has presented a declaration, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which specifies the sites holding chemical agents," Lavrov said, adding that the document has been approved by Russia, the US, the EU and the OPCW experts.
Lavrov said the declaration contains information which is "enough" for the experts to "start work."
The UN Security Council voted unanimously late Friday to pass a resolution requiring Syria to eliminate its chemical weapon stockpiles.
Under the document, the council 'decides, in the event of noncompliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.'
The United States has insisted that the threat of military force is crucial to ensuring that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad abides by the terms of the US-Russia plan to secure and destroy the chemical stockpiles.
However, the resolution does not authorize the automatic use of force if Syria is said to be in violation, while Lavrov said earlier on Saturday it absolutely rules out the use of force or any application of Chapter VII.
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