For First Time, Syria Admits It Has Chemical Arsenal

Will sign arms pact; also, Putin says US must renounce threat of force
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2013 2:23 PM CDT
Syria: We'll Disclose Sites
In this Sept. 8 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad listens during an interview with PBS host Charlie Rose.   (AP Photo/SANA)

(Newser) – President Obama's speech-writers are probably a stressed-out bunch right about now because Syria developments are coming quickly ahead of Obama's prime-time address:

  • Disclosing sites: Syria is ready to disclose the locations of its chemical stockpiles to the UN, Russia, and other unspecified nations, says Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, reports CNN. Syria also says it will stop producing the weapons and sign the international agreement forbidding them. All of which amounts to "the first direct admission by the Syrian government that it possesses chemical weapons," notes the Wall Street Journal. John Kerry responded to Moallem's statement by saying Syria must do more—namely hand over the weapons for destruction, reports AP.

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  • Vladimir Putin says this latest round of diplomacy will work only if the US renounces the threat of military action, reports the New York Times. “Undoubtedly, all of this makes sense and can function, can work, only if we hear that the American side and those who support the United States in this sense rule out the use of force," he said, "because it is difficult to make any country—Syria or any other country, any other government in the world—unilaterally disarm if the use of force is being prepared against it.”
  • Congressional delay? Obama is pushing lawmakers to delay any vote on the authorization of force until after the UN developments play out, reports Politico.
  • UN meeting canceled: A Security Council meeting on Syria originally scheduled for 4pm Eastern has been canceled at Russia's request, reports AP. It's not clear whether it's a sign of diplomatic trouble, or just a sign of how in-flux everything is at the moment.
  • Kerry to Geneva: The secretary of state will meet with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Thursday, reports the BBC.
  • Earlier today, Obama said he backed the Russian plan to have Syria surrender its chemical arsenal and would try to see it through the UN.
(Read more Syria stories.)

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