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article imageOp-Ed: Kerry's speech in Geneva on Syria

By Ken Hanly     Sep 13, 2013 in Politics
Geneva - Syria has agreed to sign the international convention on chemical weapons and also promised to submit declarations to the Organization for the the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) within the required 30 days.
The verification process under the international chemical weapons convention is carried out by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The third article of the convention is as follows: Article III requires each State Party to submit declarations to the OPCW within 30 days after the Convention enters into force for that particular State Party. A State Party must declare its possession of chemical weapons and/or CWPFs and its plans for destroying them. It must also declare any other facilities designed for the development of chemical weapons, such as laboratories, and its possession or non-possession of riot control agents.
Most countries have signed on to the convention although Egypt has not. Israel has signed the agreement but has not ratified it. The US and Russia are arguably both in violation of their obligations under the agreement because they did not destroy their stockpiles by the deadline that had been set: Russia and the United States, which declared the largest amounts of chemical weapons, are in the process of destruction and have processed 57% and 90% of their respective stockpiles.[6][17] The deadline set for both countries of April 2012, however, was not met.
Kerry has said that the thirty day period is much too long and the Syria situation is not standard. Kerry wants some stronger enforcement and shorter time period. He told us the time period in his original "offer": The US secretary of state has said that President Bashar al-Assad has one week to hand over his entire stock of chemical weapons to avoid a military attack. But John Kerry added that he had no expectation that the Syrian leader would comply.
At the time, there were many reports noting that the "offer" was no offer at all: But hours later, Kerry told Russia that he didn't mean it as a serious proposal, Reuters reported.
In the intervening hours, however, a White House official told CNN that Kerry's comments were a 'major goof,' and that he 'clearly went off-script.''There is no one in the administration who is taking this Syria proposal seriously,' the official said.
The problem for Kerry is that the Russians used his "goof" as an entry point to call the US bluff on the chemical weapons issue. The Russians and the US have talked about the issue for some time as the interview below with Obama shows. There was obviously no agreement on how the issue could be solved. No doubt the Russians wanted the Americans to at least take force off the table and probably wanted them to try and force the rebels into negotiations or even give them less support. The US and Russia never mentioned the issue until Kerry's offer!
Kerry insists that the whole diplomatic process is not a game. Perhaps he is right. It is more like a farce in which the two sides throw mud at each other in an attempt to show how dirty the other side is and that they cannot be trusted. The issue of Assad signing the chemical weapons treaty is just the occasion for the mud fight. Instead of solving the problem, the two sides are bound and determined to continue with their own agendas. In the case of the US that is to turn the balance of the battle in favor of the rebels. The ultimate goal is regime change produced by the success of their proxy warriors in a negotiated solution with the rebels in the ascendancy and dependent for their success on the US and allies. The Russians no doubt hope ultimately for a political solution as well and the replacement of Assad but not by force and not with forces opposed to Russia in power. This is Friday the 13th, perhaps it will be a lucky day for diplomatic success.
UPDATE: The two sides are still talking into Saturday. They have ceased criticizing each other while they talk. This is a positive sign. Perhaps there could be a solution yet. Both sides have an interest in securing the weapons.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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