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Syria submits chemical arms data to watchdog

OPCW says Syria meets deadline to hand over information, as part of process that should lead to weapons' destruction.

Last Modified: 21 Sep 2013 21:03
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Syria has disclosed the information on its chemical weapons programme that was expected under an agreed Saturday deadline, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said.
 
"The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received," a statement on the Hague-based OPCW's website said.

The disclosure is a crucial stage in the process that should lead to the weapons' destruction. Syria is believed to possess about 1,000 tonnes of toxins, and has agreed to destroy them under a joint Russian-US proposal designed to avert a US military strike on Syria.
 
Earlier on Saturday, OPCW said it had begun to examine the first details of Syria's chemical arsenal supplied by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

UN resolution meeting

In New York, UN envoys were due to resume talks on a draft Security Council resolution that would enshrine the plan to neutralise the lethal weapons.

The OPCW said it had postponed a meeting on the issue scheduled for Sunday.

James Bays, Al Jazeera's diplomatic editor, said the submission was very significant. "If we go back to just two weeks ago, Syria would not even say that it had chemical weapons."

However, the timetable outlined in the Russia-US plan appears to be slipping.

"Diplomats had hoped a Security Council resolution would be in place in time for the UN's General Assembly meeting on Tuesday - it now might overshadow the meeting," Bays said.

"The OPCW also has to say if it can do the work in Syria before any resolution is agreed. Security Council action is very unlikely until next week."

China, an ally of the Assad regime, urged a quick implementation of a landmark US-Russian deal to destroy Syria's chemical stockpile, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for a proposed peace conference in Geneva to take place "as soon as possible".

"We believe that a political settlement is the only right way out in defusing the Syrian crisis," Wang said.

He said Beijing would "support the early launch of the process to destroy Syria's chemical weapons".

Ceasefire claims

Meanwhile, the Syrian regime has distanced itself from comments made by Qadri Jamil, one of three of its deputy prime ministers, who told the Guardian on Thursday that his government would consider a ceasefire if peace talks were organised.

Jamil told the Guardian: "Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side.”

The newspaper reported that Jamil as saying that for the government to enter talks, it would seek "an end to external intervention, a ceasefire and the launching of a peaceful political process in a way that the Syrian people can enjoy self-determination without outside intervention and in a democratic way."

However, Jamil's party said on Friday that his comments did not represent the position of the government, only those of his Peoples' Needs Party.

It also said that Jamil had been misquoted by the newspaper, claiming he said "stopping the violence" rather than "ceasefire".

The Guardian said it stood by its story, and released an audio file of the interview regarding the ceasefire comments

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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