(NEW YORK) — The five permanent members of United Nations Security Council accepted a draft resolution on Thursday that forces Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to turn over total control of its chemical weapons stockpile to the international control by mid-2014.
A vote by the full Council could come as early as Friday.
While the White House hailed the resolution agreed upon by Syria’s ally Russia as a “breakthrough,” Assad’s government won’t necessarily face military strikes if it doesn’t comply with the demands outlined by the resolution.
If Assad is non-compliant, the Security Council would decide on what action to take against Syria, which includes the possibility of authorizing the use of force even though Moscow could block it.
American officials, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, have been trying to convince Moscow that a definitive threat of military intervention is the only way to hold Assad’s feet to the fire but Russia refused to budge.
In spite of Russian opposition to Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter authorizing the use of force, the State Department said the resolution agreed to by the five permanent Security Council members is “strong, binding and enforceable.”
Syria possesses more than 1,000 tons of blister and nerve agents, including mustard, sarin and VX gases. U.N. inspectors found traces of sarin gas in a Damascus suburb where the U.S. claims 1,400 people were killed by a rocket attack on Aug. 21. The inspectors made no determination where the gas originated from although Washington and its allies say the evidence points directly to Assad’s regime.
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