The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution on Friday ordering the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons after Russia and the United States agreed on a deal to avert U.S. military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Resolution 2118 is the council’s first resolution on the Syria conflict and gives international binding force to the U.S.-Russian on eliminating Assad’s chemical weapons.
Secretary General of the U.N. Ban Ki-moon called the resolution "historic," according to Agence France Presse, and said it was “the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time,”
There are no immediate sanctions over the chemical weapons attack on Damascus in Aug. 21, confirmed by the U.N., but it allows for a new vote on possible measures if the Russia-U.S. plan is breached.
U.S. President Barack Obama lauded the deal as “potentially a huge victory for the international community,” but has warned before the vote that there would be “consequences” for any failure by Assad to keep a promise to follow the plan, AFP reported.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also warned on Friday that Syria would face punishment if it does not comply with the U.N. resolution on its chemical weapons.
“Should the regime fail to act, there will be consequences,” Kerry was quoted as saying after the vote by AFP.
Syria U.N. envoy Bashar Ja'afari said the resolution addresses Syria's concerns and that the Syrian government was “fully committed” to attending a proposed November peace conference in Geneva aimed at ending the conflict. .
He also said after the resolution was adopted that countries supporting Syria's rebels like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and the United States should also abide by the resolution, AFP reported.
Russia, a strong backer of Assad rejects any suggestion of sanctions or military force against Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that there was no automatic enforcement and that any violations would have to be “carefully” considered by the Security Council, according to AFP.
The Security Council “condemns in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on August 21, 2013, in violation of international law,” AFP reported.
The United States, Britain and France have accused Assad's forces of carrying out an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus. Russia has sided with Assad in blaming opposition rebels.
International experts have said a U.N. report on the Aug. 21 attack, which did not attribute blame, gave clear signs that government forces carried out the attack.
The resolution states that the council “decides, in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.”
The charter can allow the use of sanctions or military force and also formally endorsed a decision taken hours earlier by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to accept the Russia-U.S, disarmament plan.
The plan calls for Syria’s chemical weapons to be put under international control by mid-2014. Experts say the timetable is very tight.