United Nations Security Council unanimously votes to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons

Syrian ambassador to UN Bashar Jafa'ari says Assad fully committed to draft resolution.

Members of the United Nations Security Council Ban Ki-Moon (photo credit: Reuters)
Members of the United Nations Security Council Ban Ki-Moon
(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – The 15 members of the UN Security Council unanimously passed a draft resolution on eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons on Friday night.
The resolution, while binding, does not lay out consequences for Syrian noncompliance, beyond the threat of another resolution that would then be passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which gives the Security Council the right to authorize the use of force.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon told the Council following the vote that this was a “historic resolution” that was “the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time.
“For many months, I have said that the confirmed use of chemical weapons in Syria would require a firm, united response,” Ban said. “Tonight, the international community has delivered.”
Now the council is turning to the matter of drafting and passing a resolution on the humanitarian situation, which could happen as early as Monday, and in planning a Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria. Ban told the council on Friday evening following the vote that it is penciled-in for November.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine hailed the resolution as “setting a standard” for the global response to threats of weapons of mass destruction.
“This decision should pave the way to the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria and set a standard for the international community in responding to threats posed by weapons of mass destruction,” AFP quoted Ashton as saying in a statement late on Friday.
The text of the resolution signified “a major step towards a sustainable and unified international response to the crisis in Syria,” Ashton said. She added that the EU would implement “forceful” support in the event of Syrian noncompliance.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters the Security Council’s vote was a “very positive development.”
“It is a good resolution,” he said. “It makes clear that the use of chemical weapons is a threat to international peace and security. It imposes binding obligations on the Syrian regime and makes clear [that] in the event of non-compliance the Council will take action.”
Hague also announced that the British government will be donating $3 million to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons Syrian Trust Fund which supports the OPCW’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“I think it’s very important now that the international agreement on chemical weapons is followed up by renewed agreements,” Hague said.
In his statement, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that in the event Syria does not comply with the council’s resolution, “the council will impose measures under Chapter Seven.”
“The Security Council tonight has shown that diplomacy can be so powerful, that it can peacefully defuse the worst weapons of war,” he said.
Kerry did not speak to reporters following the vote.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – who also chose not to speak to the press – emphasized that the resolution does not automatically impose sanctions or other “coercive measures” on Syria, and that the Security Council must have “100 percent proof” of a chemical weapons violation before taking further measures.
All the diplomats present made statements on how this resolution was not an excuse for either side to continue using conventional weapons.
“We must work together with the same determination, the same cooperation that has brought us here tonight, in order to end the conflict that continues to tear Syria apart even this very day,” Kerry said.
“A red light for one form of weapons does not mean a green light for others,” Ban said. “This is not a license to kill with conventional weapons.”
The Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jafa’ari, told reporters that his government was ready to fully comply with the Security Council. He also told reporters that the resolution applied to every member state in the UN, including in the sections where it recalls a previous Security Council resolution which, Jafa’ari said, “calls on all states from providing all form of support to nonstate actors.”
“The Syrian government acknowledges the positive endeavor that led to this exceptional language. It is regrettable, however, that some of delegations have already started to provide self-inflicted interpretations in order to derail it from its lofty purposes,” he added.
Jafa’ari also emphasized that the Syrian government voluntarily acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and said, “This proves the Syrian government’s willingness to cooperate with the OPCW.”
He added that his government was completely ready and willing to participate in a Geneva II convention, but would not say whether this would include talks to negotiate a mutually agreed upon political transition.
Meanwhile in Washington, US President Barack Obama juggled the Security Council resolution with a historic phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – the first such communication between the leaders of the US and Iran in over three decades.
“This binding resolution will ensure that the Assad regime must keep its commitments, or face consequences,” Obama said at a press conference at the White House.
“We’ll have to be vigilant about following through, but this could be a significant victory for the international community and demonstrate how strong diplomacy can allow us to secure our country and pursue a better world,” the US president said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who have for months pushed for more aggressive US involvement in Syria to aid the opposition, immediately released a statement pouring cold water on the resolution.
“This resolution is another triumph of hope over reality,” the senators said in a prepared statement. “It contains no meaningful or immediate enforcement mechanisms, let alone a threat of the use of force for the Assad regime’s noncompliance. The whole question of enforcement has been deferred.”
But a senior administration official told reporters on Friday that the resolution was an achievement that went beyond what a military campaign could have accomplished.
“This would, frankly, go beyond achieving the objective that we were contemplating with military action,” the official said.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.