Russia provides US with skeleton plan for Syria chemical handover
The Russian government announced late Wednesday that it has released its four-stage plan for the removal of chemical weapons in Syria to the United States.
According to Russia’s Kommersant, the plan calls for the removal of chemical weapons from Damascus and Syria’s membership to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as initial steps to eschew threatened U.S. military action within Syria.
The plan has already been met with some scepticism due to its minimal acknowledgement of key technical and legal problems, including a clear designation of who will be in charge of the actual destruction of the chemical weapons.
Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons has served as an issue of speculation for years, but may be the world’s largest, according to BBC reports from this week.
Recent French intelligence reports estimate there are over 1,000 tons of chemical weapons within the country that include sulphur mustard, VX and sarin. The Russian plan includes calls for Syria’s declaration of chemical weapon arsenals and manufacturer locations as well as subsequent OPCW inspections, but with the war raging in Syria, “dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure [will take] a considerable amount of time,” suggests BBC Defence Correspondent Jonathan Marcus.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. counterpart John Kerry are expected to meet about the proposed plan in Geneva today, with the option of a co-joint Russian and American team in charge of the final stage of weapon destruction still on the table for discussion, according to Kommersant sources.
Meanwhile, as Kerry and Lavrov meet in Geneva to approach the Syrian crisis in a diplomatic fashion, the Washington Post reported that CIA operatives have begun funneling weapons to rebel fighters in the last two weeks, under a plan approved by President Obama earlier this year.