Deal reached on UN resolution on Syria weapons

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The five permanent

members of the deeply divided U.N. Security Council reached agreement

Thursday on

a resolution to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, a major step

in taking the most controversial weapon off the battlefield

of the world's deadliest current conflict.

Senior U.S., Russian, British and French

diplomats confirmed the agreement, which also includes China. The full

15-member

Security Council met behind closed doors Thursday night, and

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said he would introduce

the text there.

A vote on the resolution still depends on

how the full council responds to the draft, and on how soon an

international group

that oversees the global treaty on chemical weapons can adopt a

plan for securing and destroying Syria's stockpile. Diplomats

said the earliest the Security Council could vote would be late

Friday.

Both Lyall Grant and a senior U.S. State Department official described the draft resolution as "binding and enforceable."

But the draft resolution, seen by The Associated Press, makes clear that there is no trigger for enforcement measures if Syria

fails to comply. Instead, it states that the Security Council will "impose measures under Chapter 7 of the United Nations

Charter," which will require a second resolution.

Chapter 7 allows for military and

nonmilitary actions to promote peace and security. Russia, Syria's most

powerful ally, had

opposed any reference to it. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held hastily scheduled

talks Thursday afternoon to resolve several last-minute disputes

on the text.

The Security Council has long been paralyzed

in dealing with the 2 1/2-year Syrian conflict, which has killed more

than 100,000

people and spilled over the country's borders, because of

differences between Russia and China, who back President Bashar

Assad's government, and the U.S., Britain and France, who support

the opposition. Russia and China have vetoed three Western-backed

resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to end the violence.

The recent flurry of diplomatic activity

followed the Aug. 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians

in a Damascus

suburb, and by President Barack Obama's threat of U.S. strikes in

retaliation. After Kerry said Assad could avert U.S. military

action by turning over "every single bit of his chemical weapons"

to international control within a week, Russia quickly agreed.

Kerry and Lavrov signed an agreement in Geneva on Sept. 13 to put

Syria's chemical weapons under international control for

later destruction, and Assad's government accepted.

Tough negotiations, primarily between Russia and the United States, followed on how Syria's stockpile would be destroyed.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted Thursday evening that the draft resolution establishes that Syria's chemical weapons

"is threat to international peace & security & creates a new norm against the use of CW."

While the Security Council considers the

draft resolution, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical

Weapons, the Hague-based

body that will be in charge of securing and destroying the

stockpile, was working on its own document to set out its exact

duties.

The U.N. resolution will include the text of the OPCW's declaration and make it legally binding, so the OPCW must act first.

The OPCW said Thursday it was optimistic it could quickly schedule a meeting of its 41-nation executive council to approve

its plan.

Russia's Lavrov said the draft resolution follows the language of the U.S.-Russia agreement reached in Geneva.

That agreement did not have an automatic Chapter 7 trigger for enforcement — meaning, as France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud

confirmed Thursday, that a second resolution will be needed if Syria violates the resolution's provisions.

The draft resolution for the first time would make a determination that "use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat

to international peace and security."

It would ban Syria from possessing chemical

weapons and condemn "in the strongest terms" the use of chemical weapons

in the

Aug. 21 attack, and any other use. It also would ban any country

from obtaining chemical weapons or the technology or equipment

to produce them from Syria.

The draft authorizes the U.N. to send an advance team to assist the OPCW's activities in Syria. It asks Secretary-General

Ban Ki-moon to submit recommendations to the Security Council within 10 days of the resolution's adoption on the U.N. role

in eliminating Syria's chemical weapons program.

The council would review compliance with the OPCW's plans within 30 days, and every month after that.

Some Western countries had wanted the draft to demand that the perpetrators of chemical weapons attacks be referred to the

International Criminal Court to be prosecuted for war crimes. Diplomats said this was discussed but Russia objected.

As a result, the draft says only that the Security Council "expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible

for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable."

The draft resolution is much stronger on the

call for a political transition in Syria. It endorses the roadmap for a

political

transition adopted last year in Geneva by key nations and calls

for an international conference to be convened "as soon as

possible" to implement it. It calls on "all Syrian parties to

engage seriously and constructively" at a new Geneva conference

and be committed "to the achievement of stability and

reconciliation."

The roadmap for a political transition ends with elections, but there has been no agreement on how to implement it, which

would require Assad to relinquish power at some point.