Putin: Uncertain about destruction of Syria chemical weapons

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement on Thursday that despite the successful completion of the U.S. - Russian plan for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, he was still not 100 percent certain that the plan will work.

Russia and the United States brokered the deal to put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal under international control last month.

The deal was negotiated to avoid possible U.S. military strikes that Washington said would punish Assad for a poison gas attack.

Putin told a gathering of journalists in the Russian town of Valdai on Thursday that he could not be completely certain that the plan for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons would succeed, but he saw reason to hope it would not.

“But everything we have seen so far in recent days gives us confidence that this will happen,” he said, adding, “I hope so.”

Currently, Russia and the United States are the only countries with industrial-scale capacity to handle munitions, like those used in the Syrian chemical attacks, but the import of chemical weapons is banned under U.S. law.

Russia has been destroying its own Soviet-era chemical weapons in line with an agreement with the United States, according to the Russian Munitions Agency website.

However, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu joined the international discussion and said on Thursday that Russia had no current plans to destroy Syrian chemical weapons on its territory.

Asked whether Russia had such plans, Shoigu told Interfax news agency: “No, a decision needs to be taken for this.”

“We have factories for the destruction of chemical weapons, but there is a big difference between ‘ready’ and ‘willing’.”

(With Reuters)

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