BRUSSELS, September 17 (RIA Novosti) – The NATO-Russia Council has welcomed a US-Russian plan to get rid of Syrian chemical weapons, the NATO chief said Tuesday.
“We welcomed the framework for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons agreed between the United States and Russia, called for expeditious agreement of a UN Security Council Resolution to ensure effective implementation of the framework,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after an extraordinary session to discuss Syria.
The sides “noted the importance of the swift, secure and verifiable elimination of Syria's stocks of chemical weapons,” said Rasmussen, who is also the chairman of the NATO-Russia Council.
On Saturday, after days of intense negotiations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry announced an ambitious plan under which all chemical weapons in Syria would be opened up to international inspectors by November and destroyed by mid-2014.
“The members of the NATO-Russia Council condemn the use of chemical weapons and expect full compliance with the demands of the international community,” Rasmussen’s statement also said.
“In the event of non-compliance the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, as stated in the framework agreement,” he said.
The NATO-Russia Council will keep backing all efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian conflict, the NATO chief said.
UN inspectors said Monday that they had found “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, were used in an August 21 attack that killed hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
The inspectors had no mandate to determine who had launched the attack, which the US and some of its Western allies have attributed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, but Moscow and Syria have called a provocation by anti-Assad rebels.
Lavrov said Tuesday that the UN report presented a day earlier had failed to answer certain questions and reiterated Moscow’s position that the Ghouta attack had been a “provocation” by opposition forces.
The unrest in Syria began in March 2011 and later escalated into a civil war. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, according to UN estimates.