Assad: Syria is committed to chemical weapons convention
Published Thursday, September 26, 2013
Syria is committed to the convention against chemical weapons it signed under a US-Russian deal and sees "no obstacles" to its implementation, President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview broadcast Thursday.
Speaking to Venezuela's Telesur, the Syrian leader insisted that his government was complying with a deal under which Damascus will turn over its chemical weapons for destruction.
"Syria is generally committed to all the agreements that it signs," he said in an interview published in full by the Syrian state news agency SANA on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Russia announced that it was ready to help guard Syria's chemical weapons sites when President Bashar al-Assad's chemical arms stockpiles and factories are destroyed, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Thursday by news agencies.
"We will be ready to help in guarding those facilities where work is being carried out," Interfax news agency reported Ryabkov as saying at an arms fair.
Ryabkov was speaking as the United Nations Security Council works on agreeing to a resolution on a chemical arms deal that is acceptable to both Russia and Western countries.
Assad said Damascus had begun to send the required details of its chemical arsenal to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which is overseeing the deal, and that OPCW inspectors were expected to visit Syria.
"Experts (from the OPCW) will come to Syria in the coming period to look into the status of these weapons," he said.
"As the Syrian government, there are no serious obstacles.”
"But there is always the possibility that the terrorists will obstruct the work of the experts by preventing them from accessing certain places," Assad added.
The Syrian government calls the rebels fighting against it "terrorists"
Syria agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal under a deal thrashed out following an August 21 sarin attack in the suburbs of Damascus, which killed hundreds of people.
The attack, which occurred as UN chemical weapons experts were in Syria investigating previous alleged chemical attacks, was blamed on the Syrian government by Washington and other international backers of the Syrian opposition.
Assad's government denies involvement, but agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal in the face of threatened US military action in response to the August 21 attack.
The deal halted talk of a US assault, but Assad said "the possibility of aggression is always there.”
"This time the pretext is chemical weapons, next time it will be something else," he said.
The Syrian leader accused US President Barack Obama's administration of "fabrications and lies".
He said Syria was not concerned that the United Nations Security Council would pass a resolution allowing sanctions or the use of force against Damascus.
"Today there is balance in the Security Council," he said, referring to ally Russia.
A team of UN experts, who confirmed that sarin gas was used in the August attack, arrived back in Damascus on Wednesday to resume investigations into other previous alleged attacks.
Assad said his government would ensure the UN experts were also able to move around freely, insisting that his government had invited them to come.
"We are the ones who invited them to come to Syria in March when the terrorists used poison gas in a suburb of the city of Aleppo," he said.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)