Syria takes first step in giving up chemical weapons as UN gets treaty pledge
The United Nations said its received a document from Syria today on joining the global anti-chemical weapons treaty, something the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised as part of a deal to avoid US air strikes.
"In the past few hours we have received a document from the government of Syria that is being translated, which is to be an accession document concerning the Chemical Weapons Convention," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.
Syria is one of only seven countries not to have joined the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which commits members to completely destroying their stockpiles.
But under threat of US military action after an Aug. 21 poison gas attack on Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds, Assad's government agreed to a Russian plan to hand over its chemical arsenal to international control and join the convention.
Assad's government blames the rebels for the attack. Washington blames the government and says the sarin gas used killed more than 1,400 people, including many children.
Earlier today, Assad told Russian state television that Damascus would send the documents on joining the convention in a few days.
"The petition will contain technical documents required to sign the agreement. After that, work will start that will lead to the signing of the convention prohibiting chemical weapons," Assad said in comments translated into Russian.
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said he would make a statement soon about his government's decision to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.