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Russia: Syria’s chemical weapons must be destroyed inside country

Published time: September 26, 2013 15:13
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by Harasta Media Centre on August 28, 2013 allegedly shows opposition fighters standing next to a United Nations (UN) arms expert as they collect information during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons attack in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb. (AFP Photo)

An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by Harasta Media Centre on August 28, 2013 allegedly shows opposition fighters standing next to a United Nations (UN) arms expert as they collect information during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons attack in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb. (AFP Photo)

Russia is insisting that Syria’s chemical weapons should stay in the country until they are destroyed. Moscow is ready to help guard stockpiles and factories when Assad’s government starts the disarmament process, a senior Russian official says.

"As Russia publicly stated previously, we will be ready to help in guarding those facilities where work is being carried out," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.

Russia hopes that Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) member states will “seriously consider the possibility of taking part in this process.”

However, Ryabkov stressed that there is no possibility that Syrian chemical weapons would be destroyed on Russia’s territory.

“There’s no doubt, we won’t do it,” Raybkov said. He added that the chemical weapons should be destroyed in Syria, because the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Damascus has just signed, prohibits any export of such weapons.

Ryabkov says it was possible to “effectively organize” the process on Syrian territory without changing the convention.  

At the same time, Ryabkov stressed that the question of Russia’s assistance will “depend on the situation in Syria.”

Ryabkov declined to comment on whether NATO would take part.

"As to NATO’s involvement in this work, I do not presume to comment, because I’ve had no opportunity to find out their attitude on this issue,” Ryabkov said.

Earlier, EU countries offered help in destroying Syrian chemical weapons.

Germany is "prepared to make a technical or financial contribution to the destruction of chemical weapons from Syria," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said September 15.  

Germany said it would give $2.7 million (2 million euros) to the OPCW to help it oversee the destruction of Syria's arms stocks.

Ryabkov’s comments come amid discussions among UN Security Council members about a resolution on the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria.

The draft resolution to back Syria’s disarmament could be finalized “very soon,” possibly “within the next two days,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told AP earlier.

The five permanent members of the Security Council have yet to agree on a final text of the resolution.

One of the main points of disagreement between Russia and the West is whether the resolution should be written under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which allows military and non-military actions to promote peace and security.

Gatilov said that the resolution would include a reference to Chapter 7, but there will be “no automaticity in engaging” in military or non-military actions without a separate discussion at the Security Council.

The US and its allies have threatened Syria with military action since the August 21 attack in Damascus's eastern Ghouta suburbs, when UN experts say sarin gas was used “on a large scale.”

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