US joined by France, UK to table UN resolution on Syria chemical weapons

In counter-bid to Russian proposal, western powers will send their own resolution to the UN; Fabius says Russia not interested.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with US President Barack Obama (photo credit: Courtesy UN)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with US President Barack Obama
(photo credit: Courtesy UN)
LONDON - Britain, France and the United States will table a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons in the United Nations Security Council later on Tuesday, said British Prime Minister David Cameron, reacting to a Russian proposal for Syria to surrender such arms.
Cameron was speaking after Syria accepted the proposal in order to win a possible reprieve from punitive US military strikes which US President Barack Obama has floated as a way of preventing a repeat of a suspected chemical attack on Aug. 21.
Cameron, who said he had just spoken to Obama about the issue, told lawmakers: "If this is a serious proposal then we should act accordingly and I think a UN Security Council resolution is a good idea."
"In that resolution I think it's quite important that we have some clarity about thresholds. We need to know that there's a proper timetable for doing this, we need to know there'd be a proper process for doing it, and crucially there'd have to be consequences if it wasn't done."
Cameron said the world needed to test how genuine the Russian proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control was, saying it was important to make sure the idea wasn't "some delaying tactic, some ruse."
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Russia is not keen at this stage for a binding UN Security Council resolution that would provide a framework to control Syria's chemical weapons' stocks, France's foreign minister said after talks with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday.
"As I understood, the Russians at this stage were not necessarily enthusiastic, and I'm using euphemism, to put all that into the framework of a UN binding resolution," Laurent Fabius told French lawmakers after a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said separately that time was "short" to try to ensure that the Syrian offer to surrender its chemical arms was credible, noting that President Bashar Assad's government had "consistently failed to match promises with action."
The US military sees a low risk of retaliation from the proposed US strikes against Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday.
"We assess that the risk of retaliation because of the limited nature of the strike is low. I can't drive it to zero," Dempsey told a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee.
"And I can tell you that we are postured in the region in order to deal with any miscalculation or retaliation."
Meanwhile, the proposed US strikes should not increase refugee flows to neighboring Jordan, which is already under tremendous strain, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday.
"I think it's very unlikely that you would see any increase in refugees because of the nature of the kinds of very precise strikes that we're talking about," Hagel said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.