Assad Ready to Give Up Chemical Weapons If US Stops ‘Threats’

By Sergey Guneev (RIA Novosti)

Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad

MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) – Syrian President Bashar Assad said Thursday that his government would put its chemical weapons under international supervision within a month after it signs the UN Chemical Weapons Convention, but only if the United States stops its “policy of threats.”

“Syria will send an appeal to the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a few days. [The appeal] will have the technical documents necessary to sign the agreement,” Assad said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television.

“These are standard procedures, and we will follow them,” he added, speaking in Arabic with a Russian translation.

Assad emphasized, however, that Syria would not follow such procedures unilaterally while facing US threats and international support of rebel forces.

“When we see that the US genuinely stands for stability in our region, stops threatening us with military intervention and stops supplying terrorists with weapons, then we will consider it possible to finalize all necessary procedures and they will become legitimate and acceptable for Syria,” he said.

Assad warned that an attack on Syria would destroy the whole Middle East, and he called on other countries in the region, especially Israel, to destroy their stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

“I think any war against Syria will turn into a war that would destroy the whole region and the Middle East will enter the stretch of troubles and instability that would last for dozens of years, affecting future generations,” he said.

“If we really want stability in the Middle East, all the countries [in the region] must honor the agreements. And the first country to do so is Israel because it possesses nuclear, chemical and biological weapons – all types of weapons of mass destruction,” Assad stressed.

The Syrian president also praised Russia for its efforts aimed at finding a diplomatic solution for the Syrian crisis.

“Russia plays an extremely important role in this process because we do not trust Americans and we do not have contacts with the US,” he said, adding that Russia is the only country capable of ensuring the success of the Syrian peace settlement.

Assad’s interview comes as Russian and US chemical weapons experts and diplomats prepare to attend a series of bilateral meetings on the Syrian crisis later Thursday and Friday in Switzerland.

The hastily organized talks are meant to discuss Moscow’s plan, proposed Monday, to avert a US attack on Syria by placing Damascus’ chemical weapons under international control.

(Updates with Assad’s extended quotes and info on US-Russian talks on Syria in Geneva)

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