US-Russia Reach Agreement on Syria Chemical Weapons
GENEVA - Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov say they have reached agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons.
The announcement comes on the third day of intense negotiations in Geneva. The deal includes what Kerry called "a shared assessment" of Syria's weapons stockpile, and a timetable and measures for Assad's government to comply.
It gives Syria one week, until Sept. 21, to submit "a comprehensive listing" of all its chemical weapons stockpiles. It calls for international inspectors to be on the ground in Syria by November and to complete their initial work by the end of that month.
All of Syria's chemical weapons stocks, material and equipment would have to be destroyed or removed by mid-2014.
The U.S. and Russia would work together on a new, binding Security Council resolution that would allow punitive measures if Syria's government fails to comply. The punitive measures include sanctions but stop short of military action.
U.S. officials say President Barack Obama would retain the authority to order U.S. airstrikes against Syria.
The U.N. chief is expected to present a report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria to the Security Council on Monday morning.
The U.N. inspectors have a mandate to determine whether chemical weapons were used an attack in a suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds. However, diplomats have said the report could also point to the perpetrators.
The chief chemical weapons inspector, Ake Sellstrom, has said he will deliver his report on the attack to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York this weekend. Two U.N. diplomats said late Friday that Ban would was expected to brief the council about it on Monday morning.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the time was not yet final.