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Kerry, Lavrov: Syria to Give Up the Stash in 1 Week—Maybe

John Kerry's remarks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov after their meeting, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2013.
Secretary Kerry shaking hands with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (sitting), after the two have finalized an agreement on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2013.

Secretary Kerry shaking hands with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (sitting), after the two have finalized an agreement on Syria in Geneva, Switzerland, September 14, 2013.
Photo Credit: Dept. of State

Choice Quotes

Kerry: We agreed that Syria must submit, within a week – not in 30 days, but in one week – a comprehensive listing.

Lavrov: Of course, in these approaches agreed on, there is nothing said about the use of force, not about any automatic sanctions we – as I said, all violations should be approved in the Security Council convincingly.

Kerry: I purposefully made the statements that I made in London, and I did indeed say it was impossible and he won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it. And the language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test, and we did.

Lavrov: There were countries who were ready to pay for the war, and I’m sure that there will be such countries, perhaps not the same countries, who will be ready to finance the peaceful solution of the problem.

Secretary Kerry: Well, thank you very much for your patience, not just this morning, but over the last couple of days. We’re very appreciative and particularly grateful to Sergey Lavrov, who stayed extra time from what he had originally planned, hoping we’d finish sooner, and this gave us additional opportunity to be able to work through some of the issues…

…So let me just outline specifically where we are, and the steps that the United States and Russia have agreed to take under this framework.

First, the scope: We have reached a shared assessment of the amount and type of chemical weapons possessed by the Assad regime, and we are committed to the rapid assumption of control by the international community of those weapons.

Second, specific timelines: The United States and Russia are committed to the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in the soonest and safest manner. We agreed that Syria must submit, within a week – not in 30 days, but in one week – a comprehensive listing. And additional details will be addressed regarding that in the coming days.

Third, the unprecedented use of Chemical Weapons Convention procedures is an important component of this framework. We have committed to use extraordinary procedures under the Chemical Weapons Convention for the expeditious destruction and stringent verification of Syrian chemical weapons.

Fourth, verification and monitoring: In the interest of accountability, the United States and Russia have agreed that the Syrians must provide the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons and supporting personnel with an immediate and unfettered right to inspect any and all sites in Syria.

Fifth, destruction: We have agreed to destroy all chemical weapons, including the possibility of removing weapons for destruction outside of Syria. We have also reached a side agreement on methodology.

Fifth, finally, consequences – sixth, excuse me: Our agreement today strengthens the OPCW – the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons Executive Council decision to use the Chemical Weapons Convention extraordinary procedures in order to ensure full implementation. It also provides for UN administrative and logistical support to the OPCW for inspections and destruction. In the event of noncompliance, we have committed to impose measures under Chapter 7 within the UN Security Council.

Ultimately, perhaps more so than anywhere in the world, actions will matter more than words. In the case of the Assad regime, President Reagan’s old adage about “Trust but verify” – “Doveryai no proveryai,” I think, is the saying – that is in need of an update. And we have committed here to a standard that says, “Verify and verify.”

But I also want to be clear about the endgame here. If we can join together and make this framework a success and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, we would not only save lives, but we would reduce the threat to the region, and reinforce an international standard, an international norm. We could also lay the groundwork for further cooperation that is essential to end the bloodshed that has consumed Syria for more than two years…

Foreign Minister Lavrov: (Via interpreter) …I just want to state that it’s a decision based on a consensus and a compromise and professionalism. And we have achieved an aim that we had in front of us, in front of our presidents when they talked on the 5th of September, on Friday, in the margins of the G-20 in St. Petersburg, and that later was announced, just not long ago, on the 8th of September, in – on Monday, and the aim is to resolve the solution to put under international control the arsenals of chemical weapons in Syria.

And today, I think in record times, we have an agreed proposal. I would like to state that this is a proposal that should gain – judicial form, a low form, but we cannot overestimate it.

I would like to thank all our American partners, especially John Kerry, for a constructive work in the course of which we could – the rhetoric that was not related to the – our negotiations, and to concrete – on the professionalism and to put under international control of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal, and for the furtherance of its destruction.

And the parting point was the decision of Damascus to join the OPC – the Convention on Chemical Weapons and the readiness of Damascus to be committed – its obligations to the formal entering into force of this convention after 30 days. And this convention and the obligations by the Damascus – will start implementing its obligations much in advance. We have agreed on the mutual steps that our delegations are going to do in – within the organization, OPCW, according to the procedures of it are enlisted in the CWC, that permit operatively and without any delays, without any difficulties, to resolve the objectives of destruction of chemical arsenals.

We hope that the members of the Executive Committee of the OPCW will share our approaches, the Russian approaches and the American approaches, and to adopt a decision on measures about the chemical weapons in Syria…

…And of course, in these approaches agreed on, there is nothing said about the use of force, not about any automatic sanctions we – as I said, all violations should be approved in the Security Council convincingly. And we understand the decisions that we have reached today is only the beginning of the road. And I have said about it, this fact, to a complete resolution of the objective to put under control and elimination and destruction of the chemical weapons in Syrian Arab Republic…

Moderator: The first question will come from Anne Gearan of The Washington Post.

Question: …Minister Lavrov, if I could beg your indulgence to please give at least part of your answer in English, could we get a couple of specifics, please? When is the first inspection? Is there a deadline for that and for further action? I heard you say, Secretary Kerry, that it would be as soon as safely possible. But what’s your idea of the view of when that might be?

And, separately, can you reconcile what I thought I heard you say, Secretary Kerry, about a Chapter 7 resolution with what Minister Lavrov said about taking this – that this removes the threat of the use of force? Is the threat of the use of force within the Security Council still an option here? And is U.S. military action separate from that still an option? Thank you very much.

Foreign Minister Lavrov: (Via interpreter) As for the question that you posed to me, I hope that the interpreters who are working here – they are highly – the interpreters are of high level. Therefore, I will continue to speak Russian.

I would emphasize once again that the documents that you will see for yourself, you will be – we will have this opportunity to read the documents, and they do not need any additional interpretations. Everything is clear in these documents. And these documents cannot – the documents of direct effect – these are Russian and American proposals, and they should be considered first and first of all in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. After this organization and its executive council adopt corresponding decisions, we will tell you exactly when the first inspection will start, and when these inspections will end. In these documents that will be distributed today, you will see those terms that our experts consider reasonable and simultaneously expeditious that would allow – professionally ensure security of the process of placing under control and elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons…

…Of course, it does not mean that every violation that will be reported to the Security Council will be taken by word. Of course, we will investigate every case, because there are a lot of false information, pieces of information in the world, and we should be very cautious about every fact. And when we are sure, 100 percent, then we in the Russian Federation will be ready to adopt new resolution of the Security Council to embed the measures to punish the perpetrators of this violation, and it’s nonsense to continue the speculations on the matter today.

Secretary Kerry: So let me, as Sergey did, comment on both sides of it, if I may. First of all, there are timelines in here, and it’s an ambitious goal, and the inspectors must be on the ground no later than November. And the goal is to complete the destruction and/or removal by halfway through next year, 2014. That is a stated goal within this framework.

In addition to that, there are requirements in the framework, which you will see, that automatically take noncompliance and/or some question of deviation from the framework will go to the Security Council for debate as to what measure might be implemented. But there is an agreement between Russia and the United States that noncompliance is going to be held accountable within the Security Council under Chapter 7. What remedy is chosen is subject to the debate within the council, which is always true, but there’s a commitment to impose measures. That’s the language, will impose measures commensurate with whatever is needed in terms of the accountability. We think that’s an appropriate process and –

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Should, should.

Secretary Kerry: Should. And as Sergey knows, under any circumstances, there would be a debate in the Security Council, even now. So there’s no diminishment, there’s no diminution of option. And it’s impossible, obviously, under these circumstances, to have a pre-agreement as to what that specific sanction might or might not be for circumstances that we don’t even know yet. Our hope is that we have a tight enough regimen that is agreed upon, as we have said, in the extraordinary measures that we have laid out.

We have actually agreed on the new process, on a more vigorous process, and a more defined process – for instance, the unfettered access of inspectors that is not in normal CWC procedure. But it will be embraced through a UN resolution as part of the process that exists here. So we have high anticipation that, as I said, if fully implemented, this will have an ability to be both verifiable, accountable, and the world will make its judgments as we go along.

Now with respect to the question of the use of force, first of all, the President of the United States, under our Constitution, as Commander-in-Chief, always retains the right to defend the United States of America and our interests, and he always has that right. Even as he asked Congress to approve, he retained a declared and understandable time-honored right with respect to his power as Commander-in-Chief. But the President also said he wanted to find a diplomatic solution to this. Now the potential of a threat of force is clearly one of those options that may or may not be available to the Security Council, and a subject to debate. Everybody knows the differences of opinion about it. But depending on what Assad does, that possibility exists either within the process of the United Nations, or as it did here, with a decision by the President of the United States and likeminded allies if they thought that was what it came to.

I think the President sending me here and directing me to work with my counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, as President Putin sent him here, indicates that both presidents believe the preferred route, which I think is the preferred route of most of the citizens of the world, is to find a peaceful solution to these kinds of conflicts. And that’s what I think we have worked in good faith to try to do here today.

Question: (Via interpreter) Kommersant newspaper. If you have agreed about the quantity of chemical weapons, the volumes, and where it is going to be destroyed, on the Syrian territory or in a third country, and who’s going to pay for that?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: (Via interpreter) …In the documents you are going to receive, they have the evaluations of our expert, estimated evaluations, by the final conclusion on these issues as well as others will adopt the organizing council of the organization. And the document have a common approach of the terms of the procedures and the volumes, but I would like to reiterate that this should be agreed in the framework of the OPCW and in the executive committee framework.

Secretary Kerry: Let me just say that we have agreed, as you will see in the documents, on a basic assessment of the numbers and types and locations – we have agreed between us, and that’s a very important point here. Because we expect the Assad regime, obviously, in its declaration, to show the candor that we have shown in reaching that agreement.

With respect to the issue of destruction, there is a clause in which we agreed that we will contribute resources, including finance to some degree. We have a certain amount of budget for this kind of purpose. And we will seek, in the process of the UN and in the effort to have a global commitment to this, help from many other of our international partners. But we’re convinced the urgency of this will be a test for the international community’s commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and to the importance of restraining chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction…

Foreign Minister Lavrov: (Via interpreter) As far as who is going to pay, I think that you heard that there were countries who were ready to pay for the war, and I’m sure that there will be such countries, perhaps not the same countries, who will be ready to finance the peaceful solution of the problem.

Moderator: The next question will be from David Lerman of Bloomberg.

Secretary Kerry: We’re going to send Sergey to talk to them and make that arrangement. (Laughter.)

Question: David Lerman from Bloomberg. Sir, just five days ago in London, when you first floated this idea publicly, you seemed to dismiss it at the time by saying Assad would never do it and, quote, “It can’t be done, obviously.” My question, sir, is how did the impossible suddenly become possible? And why is it credible to think that you can send these inspectors in on the ground in the middle of a civil war?

Secretary Kerry: Sure.

Question: And, as a practical matter, if you really want to get thorough, verifiable inspections in all corners of the country, don’t you have to stop the fighting first?

Secretary Kerry: Let me answer both questions. I purposefully made the statements that I made in London, and I did indeed say it was impossible and he won’t do it, even as I hoped it would be possible and wanted him to do it. And the language of diplomacy sometimes requires that you put things to the test, and we did.

Sergey and I have been talking even three days before that about this very concept. We had two phone calls on the Thursday and Friday before it. And I got a phone call very quickly from Sergey saying let’s see if we can take this and move, and he talked to his president and they talked – our presidents talked in St. Petersburg, and the rest is history. We’re here.

So, obviously, I would hope and always hoped that we could have removed those weapons, and we wanted to. But we didn’t know whether or not this could be given the kind of life it has been given in the last 48 hours. So, it just didn’t make sense to raise a concept that hadn’t yet been put to the test or agreed upon or worked through. I’m pleased that President Putin took initiative, and Sergey took initiative, and President Obama responded, and we’re here.

And so the question is, “So where do we go from here, and how do we build on this,” which I think is really critical. Now, how do you do this, quote, “in a time of war”? Well, look, this is logical. One of the reasons that we believe this is achievable is because the Assad regime has taken extraordinary pains in order to keep control of these weapons. And they have moved them, and we know they’ve moved them. We’ve seen them move them. We watched this. And so we know they’ve continued to always move them to a place of more control.

Therefore, since these weapons are in areas under regime control predominantly, Sergey raises questions that maybe the opposition has some here or there, and absolutely, fair is fair. Both sides have to be responsible. If they do, that also – and that may present a larger challenge. But those of us who have been supporting the opposition have a responsibility to help create access there, and the regime has responsibility where we believe the – the measure – in fact, we believe the only weapons are – ought to be accessible because the Assad regime controls the access.

So in point of fact, it shouldn’t be in a contested area, largely because they’ve been working to keep it out of the contested area, and that is the sort of silver lining, if you will, in – with the way in which they have contained these weapons. So it’s our expectation that with the cooperation of the international community, with adequate contribution of protection forces and of people to go on the ground, if the Assad regime is prepared to live up to its word, we should not have a problem achieving access to their sites. And that will quickly be put to the test.

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10 Responses to “Kerry, Lavrov: Syria to Give Up the Stash in 1 Week—Maybe”

  1. Shemayah Shiloh Phillips says:

    Maybe.

  2. So Russia with the one hand tries to make a deal so the west won’t bomb Assad and while people try to get on board with them, they stab the west in the back by making a deal with Iran to supply S-300‘s. The issue is that they are forgetting that if Russia starts to send S-300‘s to Iran; Israel at the very least will likely attack the shipments. It’s not just the US that won’t like that sale. That could be the trigger that sets this whole thing off and in a big way. Russia simply should not take this action, BUT they are and I really doubt that they will pull back from it. The clock is ticking down in the Middle East. It just seems that we have no shortage of bad decisions built upon the dried bones of former bad decisions. As Iran looks to avoid getting their nuclear program bombed, they buy weapons that will almost certainly result in military conflict, and Russia who people just stated were brilliant political chess players just turned over the chess board. Perhaps the players don’t understand that this is NOT a game of chess! I wrote a small 6 page book that outlines what I believe the Bible states will take place soon as well as the potential trends I see at this time. I don’t accept donations and it’s free. It’s a short read. I encourage you to have a look: http://www.booksie.com/religion_and_spirituality/book/richard_b_barnes/after-the-rapture-whats-next

  3. Sarah Ron says:

    Kerry and Putin also working on a deal to send Miley Cyrus and her wrecking ball over to Free Pussy Riot Now! (Putin, fear no art.)

    .

  4. Sarah Ron says:

    Kerry and Putin also working on a deal to send Miley Cyrus and her wrecking ball over to Free Pussy Riot Now! (Putin, fear no art.)

    .

  5. Before everyone gets so excited about the deal struck in regards to chemical weapons being surrendered, it may be worth remembering that there is no way to determine if the stash of weapons being surrendered is the entire arsenal of chemical weapons. In addition, nothing that I have seen convinces me that it was Assad who used the weapons and not one of the rebel groups. I would like to know why there wasn't an outcry after the thirteen other times chemical weapons were being used. In subcommittee hearings last week, Kerry claimed that the rebels were moderates but I have read reports that many of these people are connected to terrorist groups. Most strategists don't believe Obama's efforts of shooting missiles into Syria would have done anything in stopping chemical weapons from being used. What it would have had done is inflamed the situation, thereby increasing the possibility of retaliation and strikes against Israel. If the international community would have done something much earlier when the conflict first broke out, they could have gotten a handle on where the chemical weapons were located and what factions of groups were involved. In reality, what has really been accomplished. While these negotiations are taking place, we could be allowing the weapons to be dispersed. Perhaps if the United Nations and European Union spent more time in addressing the problems in Syria and less time condemning Israel about settlements and just about every other problem in the world, more prudent measures could have been taken and we wouldn't be facing the current problems.

  6. Before everyone gets so excited about the deal struck in regards to chemical weapons being surrendered, it may be worth remembering that there is no way to determine if the stash of weapons being surrendered is the entire arsenal of chemical weapons. In addition, nothing that I have seen convinces me that it was Assad who used the weapons and not one of the rebel groups. I would like to know why there wasn't an outcry after the thirteen other times chemical weapons were being used. In subcommittee hearings last week, Kerry claimed that the rebels were moderates but I have read reports that many of these people are connected to terrorist groups. Most strategists don't believe Obama's efforts of shooting missiles into Syria would have done anything in stopping chemical weapons from being used. What it would have had done is inflamed the situation, thereby increasing the possibility of retaliation and strikes against Israel. If the international community would have done something much earlier when the conflict first broke out, they could have gotten a handle on where the chemical weapons were located and what factions of groups were involved. In reality, what has really been accomplished. While these negotiations are taking place, we could be allowing the weapons to be dispersed. Perhaps if the United Nations and European Union spent more time in addressing the problems in Syria and less time condemning Israel about settlements and just about every other problem in the world, more prudent measures could have been taken and we wouldn't be facing the current problems.

  7. Kerry go home and tell Obama is to late, now Assad is moving the chemical weapons to the civilian areas, civilians moving to strategic military places, the civilians will be human shields, if there is a US light attack, there would be many but many civilians dead and worst the chemical weapons bombed, which dead gasses wil expand to Lebanon, Turkey, Irak, Jordan, Israel, this are the neighbor countries, what about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Qatar, etc:, this could the greatest human catastrophe of all times, not to say how much deads, the best is that the US should not get involved to the Syrian civil war, let them kill each other: sunnies, shiites, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, etc:.

  8. Yechiel Baum says:

    WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
    "RETURN TO SENDER" ????

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