US ‘blackmailing’ Russia over Syria resolutionAgence France-Presse . Damascus
Russia on Sunday accused the United States of trying to blackmail it into a tough UN resolution on Syria’s chemical weapons, as a mortar round hit Moscow’s embassy in Damascus.
The comments came as the world’s chemical weapons watchdog examined an inventory of Syria’s arsenal, submitted to the body under a deal that headed off US military action against Damascus.
The agreement is to be enshrined in a UN resolution, which has caused disagreement among the Security Council’s five permanent members.
The United States, Britain and France want a tough resolution that could include sanctions or use of force under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII if Syria fails to implement the deal.
But Russia opposes such language and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday accused Washington of trying to ‘blackmail’ Moscow.
‘Our American partners are beginning to blackmail us: if Russia won’t support a resolution under Chapter VII in the UN Security Council, then we will stop the work in the Organisation for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,’ he told Channel One, Russian agencies said.
The Hague-based OPCW is overseeing the inventory and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons under the agreement.
‘Our partners are now blinded by their ideological goal of regime change (in Syria)’ Lavrov said.
‘All they talk about is that (president) Bashar al-Assad must leave.
‘They are only interested in proving their own superiority. Not in the goal that is guiding us, to solve the problem of chemical weapons in Syria,’ he added.
Lavrov’s comments came as a mortar round slammed into the compound of the Russian embassy in Damascus, the first such hit against the site.
The attack, which caused no injuries, was confirmed by an embassy source speaking to Syrian state news agency SANA, as well as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog.
The OPCW said Saturday it had received a complete inventory from Syria of its chemical arsenal and was scrutinising the data.
Just hours later CNN quoted a senior US administration official as saying that US officials were surprised and encouraged by the volume of information provided by Damascus.
‘The official said the declaration was more complete than what the officials had expected the Syrians to put forth,’ CNN reported.
A tentative Saturday deadline had been set for the full accounting of Syria’s arsenal under the plan which calls for its chemical weapons to be destroyed by mid-2014.
A UN report released last Monday said that sarin gas was used in the Syria attacks but did not apportion blame. Assad’s government and the rebels fighting to oust him have accused each other of being responsible.
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