Kerry credits Assad for moving to destroy chemical weapons arsenal
AFPDAMASCUS -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can take “credit” for moving quickly to eliminate his regime's chemical arms, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday, after experts began destroying the banned arms.
October 8, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
The operation, performed by Syrian personnel supervised by international disarmament experts, comes under the terms of a U.N. Security Council resolution that will see Damascus relinquish its chemical arsenal.
“The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian cooperation and obviously for the Syrian compliance,” Kerry told reporters alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Indonesian town of Nusa Dua after the two held talks.
“I think it's extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the (U.N.) resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed,” Kerry said.
“I think it's a credit to the Assad regime, frankly. It's a good beginning and we welcome a good beginning.”
Syria agreed to give up its chemical arsenal under last month's U.N. resolution that enshrined an agreement struck between Washington and Moscow aimed at averting U.S. military action.
Under the plan, Syria's chemical weapons mixing and production facilities must be destroyed by Nov. 1.
On Sunday, a statement released by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said inspectors were verifying details of Syria's chemical arsenal and overseeing destruction work.
Syrian workers “used cutting torches and angle grinders to destroy or disable a range of items,” the statement said, to destroy or disable “missile warheads, aerial bombs and mixing and filling equipment.”