‘Russia to sell Iran anti-aircraft system, nuclear reactor’
resolution, announced by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and called an emergency Security Council meeting. Lavrov called the threat of military action unacceptable, and Russian President Vladmir Putin said a weapons deal would work only if the United States and others tell us theyre giving up their plan to use force against Syria. After an afternoon telephone conversation between Kerry and Lavrov, the Russians dropped their demand for the emergency meeting and instead agreed that Kerry and Lavrov should talk face to face. The purpose, a senior State Department official said, is to make sure that what Russia has in mind for Syrias weapons is comprehensive and verifiable in the midst of a protracted civil war, and to make clear that the United States and its partners insist that the proposal includes consequences if Syria does not comply. Were waiting for that proposal, a senior administration official said, but were not waiting long. We will take a hard look at it, but it has to be swift, it has to be real, and it has to be verifiable. . . . If the U.N. Security Council seeks to be the vehicle to make it happen, well, then, it cant be a debating society. Just a day after Russia made the surprise weapons proposal and Syria immediately announced its agreement, the Western partners remained wary that it was a ploy designed to head off President Obamas plan to launch a U.S. military strike. Kerry and other senior administration officials continued previously scheduled congressional briefings to build support for a what it has been called a limited attack to punish Syria for using chemical weapons outside Damascus last month, killing more than 1,400 people. The U.S.-backed Syrian Opposition Coalition was unequivocal in its assessment, calling the initiative a strategy to stall for time and an inadequate response to a chemical attack that had already taken place. Crimes against humanity cannot be absolved through political concessions, or surrendering the weapons used to commit them, the coalition said in a statement.
Kerry, Lavrov to meet on Russian proposal after Russia balks at plan for U.N. action
Obama pledged that any military action would be limited and wouldn’t involve deploying ground combat troops or waging a prolonged air campaign against Syria. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said early Tuesday during a trip to Moscow that Damascus “agreed to the Russian initiative as it should thwart the U.S. aggression against our country.” Before departing Moscow in the evening, al-Moallem told Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV that Syria would place its chemical weapons locations in the hands of representatives of Russia, other unspecified countries and the United Nations. Syria will also declare the chemical arsenal it long denied having, stop producing such weapons and sign conventions against them. Mindful that Damascus could only be seeking to avoid Western military strikes, France said it would put forward a draft resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, making it enforceable with military action. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the French resolution would demand that Syria open its chemical weapons program to inspection, place it under international control, and ultimately dismantle it. A violation of that commitment, he said, would carry “very serious consequences.” The resolution would condemn the Aug. 21 attack and bring those responsible to justice, he said. “We do not want this to be used as a diversion,” Fabius said. “It is by accepting these precise conditions that we will judge the credibility of the intentions expressed yesterday.” Obama threw his support behind the French resolution and discussed the matter with French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron. At the same time, he continued to push his original plan to win congressional authorization for U.S.
After calling off a transfer of five S-300 missile batteries to Iran three years ago, Russia is now interested in renewing the agreement and in setting up a civilian nuclear reactor for its long-time ally as part of a deal worth $800 million, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Wednesday. The two countries initially signed the S-300 missile system deal in 2007, but it was called off three years later as part of UN Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The cancellation of the agreement led to tensions between the two countries, including a $4 billion Iranian lawsuit against Russia. Israel and the West have expressed concern in the past over Iran obtaining the state-of-the-art anti-aircraft missiles, as they could severely affect the outcome of an airstrike against Irans nuclear reactors. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet Friday with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in Kazakhstan, where the two leaders are expected to discuss the deal in further detail, the report said. Rouhani on Tuesday stated that his country will not give up one iota of its nuclear program, despite recent hopes that the new president, widely considered a relative moderate, would cooperate with United Nations inspectors on his countrys nuclear facilities. A senior Russian lawmaker said that Russia could expand arms sales to Iran and revise the terms of US military transit to Afghanistan if Washington launched a strike on Syria. Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected chief of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, told lawmakers that Russia hoped the US would back Russias proposal for Syria to put its chemical weapons under international control for their subsequent dismantling. During Wednesdays debate of a draft resolution on Syria, Communists called for an increase in Russian weapons supplies to Iran and a revision of conditions for transit via Russia of supplies for US forces in Afghanistan. Pushkov said action now would be premature, but warned that if the party of war prevails in Washington, Russia should consider those moves.