September 14, 2013
President Barack Obama has welcomed an agreement to disarm Syria of its chemical arsenal as an “important, concrete” step that could prevent the weapons from being used elsewhere in the world. However, he also signalled that he was still prepared to launch military strikes if the disarmament plan failed.
The deal, the result of three days of talks between the US and Russia in Geneva, requires Syria to provide a comprehensive list of its chemical weapons within a week and to allow inspectors into the country by November. Chemical weapons stockpiles are to be removed or destroyed by the middle of next year.
“This framework provides the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the region and the world,” the US president said. “The international community expects the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments.”
The agreement effectively confirms that US military strikes against Syria, which just six days ago Washington was indicating were imminent, will not happen in the short term. The White House announced earlier in the week that it had put on hold an attempt to request authorisation for military force from Congress.