France to float UN council resolution on Syria

PARIS (AP) — France will float a resolution in the U.N. Security Council aimed at forcing Syria to make public its chemical weapons program, place it under international control and dismantle it, the French foreign minister said Tuesday.

Laurent Fabius said France, a permanent member of the 15-nation U.N. body, will start the resolution process on Tuesday under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is militarily enforceable. The proposal would also condemn a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on Aug. 21 that Western powers allege was carried out by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime — a claim he has denied.

The French initiative comes a day after Russia, a fellow permanent member of the council that has been a key ally of Assad’s regime, expressed support for a proposal for Syria’s chemical weapons arsenals to be placed under international control and destroyed.

Fabius said the resolution, based around five points, would demand that Syria “bring fully to light” its chemical weapons program. The measure would also set up international inspections and controls of the dismantling process, and would carry “very serious consequences” if the commitment were violated.

It would also seek to bring to justice those responsible for the Aug. 21 attack.

The minister said he expected a “nearly immediate” commitment from Syria. He said Russia had information about Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile, and expressed hope that this time a tough resolution on Syria would not be blocked — an allusion to a string of efforts led by Western powers at the U.N. body in recent months that were blocked by Russia and China.

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