The world’s chemical watchdog is to hold talks on Friday over a draft plan to dismantle Syria’s chemical arsenal as part of a deal that headed off military strikes.
“The meeting of the Executive Council to discuss the draft decision of the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons will take place this evening at 22:00 hours (2000 GMT) at OPCW Headquarters in The Hague,” the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said on its website.
The OPCW’s 41-member council will discuss a document laying out what US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the “rules and regulations” of Syrian chemical disarmament, which Damascus has signed up to.
Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons as part of a US-Russian agreement made earlier this month, worked out as Washington threatened military action in response to an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.
The OPCW meeting comes after the United States and Russia agreed a draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons on Thursday, breaking a prolonged deadlock.
The 15-member Security Council is to vote on the resolution on Friday, after the OPCW meeting.
The text says the Security Council “decides in event of non-compliance 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 UN Charter.”
It says the council can consider measures if the OPCW or UN leader Ban Ki-moon report a breach of a Russia-US disarmament plan.
Chapter VII can allow sanctions or military force. But there would have to be a new vote and diplomats predicted tough talks to persuade Russia not to use its veto again.
Damascus has signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which the OPCW enforces, and Syria will officially join the body on October 14.
The draft OPCW agreement requires Syria to hand over the whole of its arsenal which is to be destroyed by mid-2014.
OPCW experts are analysing an inventory submitted by Damascus to draw up a realistic timetable for destroying the chemicals, delivery systems and production facilities.
According to the framework agreed by Washington and Moscow, OPCW weapons inspectors are to complete inspections of Syrian weapons sites and destruction of production and mixing/filling equipment by November. AFP