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Syria submits 'initial disclosure' of chemical weapons stockpiles

September 20, 2013|By Shashank Bengali
  • United Nations weapons inspectors arrive at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons headquarters in The Hague.
United Nations weapons inspectors arrive at the Organization for the Prohibition… (Guus Schoonewille / Eurpean…)

WASHINGTON -- The Syrian government submitted an “initial disclosure” of its chemical weapons stockpiles to international inspectors Friday, the first step under a deal to eliminate the illicit poison gas program.

Experts at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said they had begun reviewing the document but released few details.

It thus wasn’t clear if Syria’s disclosure met the terms of the U.S.-Russian plan, which called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to submit by Saturday “a comprehensive listing, including names, types and quantities of its chemical weapons agents, types of munitions and location and form of storage, production and research and development facilities.”

An OPCW official described the document as incomplete, telling Reuters, “We have received part of the verification, and we expect more.”

Obama administration officials had signaled in recent days that they didn’t expect Syria to meet the Saturday deadline, saying they only expected “to see forward momentum” from Assad to indicate he will comply with the disarmament plan.

The United States blames Assad’s military for an Aug. 21 poison gas attack in Damascus suburbs that it says killed more than 1,400 people. Syria maintains the attack was a "provocation" by rebels intended to persuade the international community to intervene in the 2-1/2-year-old war.

Syria’s disclosure comes days before world leaders meet at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The U.N. Security Council is wrestling with the Syrian crisis but so far has not agreed on a resolution.

The United States is pushing Russia and others to pass a resolution that puts pressure on Syria to comply with the international ban on chemical weapons. Russia has resisted any mention of military action if Syria does not fulfill its obligations.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry spoke Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and said they discussed “a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations. We will continue to work on that.”


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Twitter: @SBengali

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