WASHINGTON, September 27 (RIA Novosti) – US President Barack Obama on Friday lauded a draft UN Security Council resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons hammered out by Russia and the United States as “potentially a huge victory for the international community.”
“The fact that we now have a framework … that would be legally binding, that would be verifiable and enforceable, where there will be consequences for Syria’s failure to meet what has been set forth in this resolution, I think is a potentially huge victory for the international community,” Obama said ahead of talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The Security Council was expected to vote on the draft resolution later Friday, US media cited UN diplomats as saying.
Washington and Moscow had been at loggerheads over the role of military action to enforce Syria’s compliance with a US-Russian plan to place Syria’s chemical stockpile under international control.
The Obama administration had insisted that the threat of force is crucial to forcing Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over his government’s chemical arsenal. Russia, an ally of Assad, has repeatedly rejected outside military intervention in Syria’s civil war.
The two countries announced Thursday that the five permanent members of the Security Council had finalized a draft resolution demanding that the Assad government give full access to weapons inspectors and place all of its chemical weapons under international control.
The draft resolution, published Thursday by Reuters, does not include an automatic trigger for military action should Damascus fail to abide by the deal, though it does say that noncompliance will result in measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows for military force or other sanctions to restore peace and security.
Any specific sanctions would have to be authorized by another UN Security Council resolution, though the Obama administration has said it is not forgoing the possibility of military action in Syria without UN approval.
Obama said Friday that it is “doubtful” the diplomatic push would have reached this point without US threats to carry out military strikes against Syria in response to an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Syria that Washington claims left more than 1,400 dead.
The White House accuses Assad’s government of responsibility for the attack, while top Russian officials have said it was likely carried out by Syrian rebels trying to frame Assad.
“But I’ve always expressed a preference for resolving this diplomatically, and I appreciate all our international partners in working very hard over the past several days to make sure that we could arrive at a resolution,” Obama said.
The US-Russian plan to seize and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons was announced earlier this month by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The deal came after a whirlwind of diplomacy following an intense lobbying effort by Washington to gather domestic and international support for punitive military strikes against Syria in response to the Aug. 21 attack.