Security Council Backs Ban's Plan for Syria
The UN Security Council on Thursday backed a plan by UN leader Ban Ki-moon for a joint mission with the global chemical arms watchdog to destroy Syria's weapons, diplomats told AFP.
Meanwhile, the international inspectors overseeing the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal visited three sites linked to the chemical weapons program, a spokesman told the Associated Press.
After the first Security Council talks on Ban's recommendations, Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that "no objections" were raised.
The council's 15 envoys had agreed that the UN and the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are doing "a great job," said France's UN ambassador Gerard Araud.
"Good cooperation by the Syrian government has been noted," Churkin told reporters, according to AFP.
Ban has said up to 100 experts in the OPCW mission will be needed to carry out an operation to eliminate Syria's banned arms.
A chemical weapons attack in Damascus in August, which left hundreds dead, sparked an international crisis that led to threats of a U.S. military strike against Syrian government targets.
The Security Council passed a resolution on September 27 backing a Russia-U.S. plan to destroy President Bashar Al-Assad's chemical weapons by mid-2014, thus averting an American strike.
The first members of an OPCW-UN team have since started work supervising the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons production facilities.
Syria has won praise from both the members of the mission as well as from the U.S. for its rapid compliance with the UN resolution.
A Security Council letter will be sent to the OPCW formalizing the accord for a joint mission, Churkin said. The letter was expected to be approved on Friday.
Ban is expected to quickly name a leader of the joint mission which will have bases in Damascus and Cyprus.
The OPCW has received documents from the Syrian regime detailing its arsenal, which is believed to include more than 1,000 tons of sarin, mustard gas and other banned chemicals stored at an estimated 45 sites.