Will France give Syria a chemical weapons ultimatum?

France has drafted a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Syria make a complete declaration of its chemical weapons program within 15 days or face sanctions.

Jacques Brinon/AP
France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks during a press meeting at the Quai d' Orsay, in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 10. Fabuis said France will float a resolution in the UN Security Council aimed at forcing Syria to make public its chemical weapons program, place it under international control, and dismantle it.

An initial French draft UN Security Council resolution would demand that Syria make a complete declaration of its chemical weapons program within 15 days and immediately open all related sites to UN inspectors or face possible punitive measures, Reuters has learned.

The elements of the draft resolution, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, adds that the Security Council would intend "in the event of non-compliance by the Syrian authorities with the provisions of this resolution ... to adopt further necessary measures under Chapter VII" of the UN Charter.

Chapter 7 of the UN Charter covers the 15-nation Security Council's power to take steps ranging from sanctions to military interventions. It is the reference to Chapter 7, UN diplomats say, that has made Russia reluctant to support the initial French draft.

The draft also makes clear the council considers the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the chemical attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds and for other attacks. It would demand "the immediate cessation of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian authorities."

The French draft comes in response to a Russian plan, announced on Monday, for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international control in order to avoid a US military strike. Syria has said it accepts the Russian plan.

The draft would also ask the council to refer Syria's 2-1/2 year civil war to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for possible war crimes indictments. That, diplomats say, would also be hard for Moscow to accept.

The draft would demand "that the Syrian authorities submit to the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon), within 15 days of the adoption of the present resolution, an exhaustive, complete and definitive declaration of the locations, amount and types of all items related to its chemical warfare program."

It would also demand that UN inspectors "in close coordination with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will carry out immediate on-site inspections of Syria's chemical, biological and related vehicles, based on Syria's declaration and the designation of any additional locations by the (U.N. investigation) Mission itself."

The Syrian government would also be required to "allow immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all areas, facilities, equipment, records and means of transport."

Britain, France and the United States began negotiations on the draft on Tuesday, envoys said. Further discussions with the other two Security Council veto powers – Russia and China – will continue in the coming days.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in Geneva on Thursday. The draft resolution is expected to be a key topic of discussion, as well as Russia's ideas for what the council should approve, diplomats say.

(Editing by Bill Trott and Ken Wills)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.