U.S. warns Syria against stalling over chemical weapons

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2013 3:22 PM
U.S. warns Syria against stalling over chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Documents Syria sent to the United Nations on joining the global anti-chemical weapons treaty cannot be a substitute for disarmament or a stalling tactic, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. option to use military force remains on the table while discussions proceed with Russia on how to remove Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

The United Nations said it had received Syria's application to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, a multilateral pact that bar states that are party to it from developing, producing, stockpiling, acquiring, transferring or retaining such weapons.

States that are a party to the agreement also agree to destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons that they may hold over time as well as the facilities that produced them.

Asked about Syria submitting a document to United Nations and seeking to join the agreement, Harf replied: "The Chemical Weapons Convention is an important thing ... but that that would not be a substitute for working with us and the Russians to verify and ultimately destroy their stockpile."

She also brushed off Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's suggestion that he would only finalize plans to give up his chemical arms when Washington stopped threatening Damascus militarily. "The threat of military action is still on the table," Harf said.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech and David Brunnstrom)