Syria hands over details of its chemical weapons program

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Syria has given details of its chemical arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the chemical weapons watchdog said on Friday.

“The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has received an initial disclosure from the Syrian government of its chemical weapons program,” an OPCW statement said.

A spokesman for the U.N.-backed agency said: “We have received part of the verification and we expect more.”

The agency will oversee the removal of President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The organization has postponed a meeting of its Executive Council set for Sunday that had been due to discuss how to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons program, AFP reported.

Damascus had until Saturday to supply details of its arsenal, in line with a U.S.-Russian plan that helped prevent military action on regime targets following a chemical attack last month that killed hundreds of people.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he had spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by telephone on Friday. They had agreed to continue cooperating, “moving not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations“, Kerry told reporters in Washington.

One Western diplomat warned on Friday that a failure by Assad to account for all the suspected stockpile would cause world powers to seek immediate action at the U.N. Security Council to force Damascus to comply.

If there were gaps in the documentation, the diplomat said, “this matter is going to go straight to the Security Council.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he was not certain 100 percent that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would implement a deal to destroy his chemical weapons.

“Will we manage to carry it through? I can’t say 100 percent, but all that we have seen recently, in the last few days, inspires confidence that it is possible and that it will be done,” Putin said, according to AFP.

He was speaking a meeting of the Valdai international discussion club with Western politicians and journalists in the northwestern Novgorod region.

Putin, whose country has been the Syrian government’s main ally in the more than two-year-old civil war, said he had strong grounds to believe that an Aug. 21 chemical attack in Syria was staged by opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.