U.N. Security Council could vote on Syria resolution Friday

U.N. Security Council could vote on Syria resolution Friday
Friday, September 27, 2013 - 6:34am

The U.N. Security Council could vote as early as Friday on a draft resolution regarding Syria's chemical weapons program.

The resolution would impose "legally binding obligations" on the government to eliminate its program, said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

"This resolution will require the destruction of a category of weapons that the Syrian government has used ruthlessly and repeatedly against its own people. And this resolution will make clear that there are going to be consequences for noncompliance," she said.

Power described the move as significant, as it represents the first time since the start of Syria's civil war that the Security Council has imposed binding obligations on the country.

She said council members are hoping for a vote as early as Friday night, following a vote in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons executive council.

"In the wake of that vote, and we hope in the immediate wake of that vote, we would have Security Council adoption of this text, which we are optimistic is going to be received very warmly. We're optimistic for an overwhelming vote," Power said.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has called a meeting for Friday at 4 p.m. ET in the Netherlands to discuss plans for the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons.

Its executive committee is expected to approve the decision to fast-track Syria's addition to the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international agreement banning chemical weapons. Syria announced this month that it was willing to join the agreement.

The organization plans to send an advance team of inspectors to Damascus on Monday, an official with the organization, who declined to be identified discussing delicate operations, told CNN on Friday.

The team will establish a base for communications and begin preparations for inspections, the official said.

The official said that in order to meet international deadlines for destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, the group may opt for a "quick and dirty" program that would render the weapons unusable but wouldn't destroy them, the official said.

The United States and other Western nations blame the Syrian government for an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that U.S. officials estimate killed 1,400 people.

Russia and Syria say they think rebels used the weapons.

"This is a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy," a senior State Department official said about the resolution.

"The Russians have agreed to support a strong, binding and enforceable resolution that unites the pressure and focus of the international community on the Syrian regime to ensure the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons," the official said.

The deal could still fall apart.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin echoed Power's comment Thursday on the timing of a potential Security Council vote, saying that he hoped the resolution would be adopted soon, "maybe even tomorrow night."

He urged reporters to read the language of resolution carefully.

"Every word, every comma, every article -- definite or indefinite -- are very important," he said.

According to a draft obtained by CNN, the resolution requests the director general of the OPCW and the U.N. secretary general to report noncompliance to the Security Council. In the event of noncompliance, the council would impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

The resolution would not authorize the automatic use of force if Syria is said to be in violation, as was previously sought by the United States.

CNN's Dana Ford, Andrew Carey and Jim Sciutto contributed to this report.

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