MOSCOW, September 13 (RIA Novosti) – The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has received Syria’s request to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, the organization said Friday, as US, Russian and UN officials discussed Moscow’s plan for placing the country’s chemical weapons under international control in a bid to avoid US airstrikes.
OPCW director-general Ahmet Uzumcu received a letter from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday informing him of the government’s decision to join the convention, the organization said in a press release.
The 1993 treaty requires the destruction of all chemical weapon stockpiles, and Syria is one of about half a dozen UN member states that have not signed it.
Uzumcu said Syria’s request had been forwarded to the convention’s signatories for review.
The OPCW’s press secretary was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying the organization’s executive council would meet next week to consider the request.
Some Western news agencies quoted the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations as saying Thursday that Damascus had become a full member of the convention.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has received a letter from Damascus about Syria’s intention to join the convention, and he welcomed the initiative, his spokesperson said Friday morning.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi met in Geneva on Friday but reached no agreement on how to deal with the Syrian civil war, in which 100,000 people have already been killed, according to UN estimates.
Washington has accused the Syrian government, which has been battling a domestic insurgency for over two years, of killing hundreds of civilians outside Damascus with poison gas on August 21, and has threatened airstrikes against government targets in retaliation.
Damascus welcomed Moscow’s initiative, but experts have voiced doubt about the readiness of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to hand over its entire chemical arsenal, which a former UN inspector has called one of the world’s largest, Reuters reported.