DO WE TRUST HIM NOW? Assad signs decree that Syria will abide international law on chemical weapons
United Nations confirms that Syrian president has signed document agreeing to international ban on weapons
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has signed a legal document confirming that his government will abide by an international ban on chemical weapons. The United Nations has confirmed this. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rejected Assad's earlier pledge to sign the agreement, saying the usual rules cannot apply to the current situation. Kerry demanded speedier compliance.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had earlier said in a Russian TV interview that Syria decided to relinquish its control of its chemical weapons because of the Russian proposal and not the threat of U.S. military intervention.
In confirmation, Ban's office said that it has received a letter from Syria's government saying Assad had signed the legislative degree providing for accession to the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.
In the meantime, Secretary of State Kerry Kerry noted that Assad said a 30-day lead time after signing the agreement would be standard. Kerry made the statement at a news conference in Geneva after a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,
"There is nothing standard about this process," Kerry said, as the regime has already used chemical weapons. "The words of the Syrian regime in our judgment are simply not enough.
"Only the credible threat of force and the intervention of Putin and Russia . has brought the Syrian regime for the first time to acknowledge that it even has chemical weapons and will now relinquish them," Kerry said.
"Together we will test the commitment of Assad to follow through with his promises." Kerry warned that a U.S. military strike could occur if Assad doesn't agree to dismantle his chemical arsenal properly. "There ought to be consequences if it doesn't take place," Kerry said.
Lavrov said the dismantling "will make unnecessary any strike against the Syrian Arab Republic."
President Barack Obama expressed optimism but chose his words carefully. "I am hopeful that the discussions that Secretary Kerry has with Foreign Minister Lavrov as well as some of the other players in this can yield a concrete result, and I know that he is going to be working very hard over the next several days over the possibilities there."
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior U.N. diplomat, told the Associated Press beforehand that the high-level meeting would be an exploratory session to gauge whether they can embark on "the herculean task" of dismantling Syria's chemical weapons while the country is in conflict.
Assad had earlier said in a Russian TV interview that Syria decided to relinquish its control of its chemical weapons because of the Russian proposal and not the threat of U.S. military intervention.
"Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia," Interfax quoted Assad as telling Russia's state-run Rossiya-24 channel. "The U.S. threats did not influence the decision."
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