Disarmers welcome US-Russian deal on Syria's chemical weapons

By agency reporter
15 Sep 2013

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has welcomed the US-Russian agreement which maps out the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons by mid-2014.

The deal – brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva yesterday – gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad just one week to submit a comprehensive list of the country's chemical weapons.

Syria would then have until November to allow UN inspectors "unfettered access to chemical sites", said Kerry, with its entire chemical weapons capability to be destroyed by the middle of next year. Failure to comply would result in the matter being referred to the UN Security Council.

CND's General Secretary Kate Hudson said that while the deal should be welcomed with cautious optimism, it showed that there are always diplomatic alternatives to military attacks.

"The alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria has rightly appalled the international community. But while many clamoured for war – as if that was any kind of solution to the complex and tragic problems facing the country – CND has consistently advocated a diplomatic approach and political resolution.

"Just weeks ago, a US-led military strike on Syria looked inevitable. But public opinion across the world rejected this, calling for diplomacy: including in the UK, where the government had no option but to oppose military action. So it is encouraging to see concrete actions on the elimination of chemical weapons coming out of these discussions – in addition to Syria's joining of the Chemical Weapons Convention."

She concluded: "Of course this does not resolve the ongoing situation in Syria: but it serves to highlight that where political pressure is brought to bear, progressive and peaceful solutions can be achieved."

[Ekk/4]

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