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Syria Meets Deadline to Disclose Chemical Weapons
Sharp divides over disarmament process remain as US continues threat of force
The Syrian government met the first deadline in the disarmament plan brokered by the United States and Russia by submitting information about its chemical weapons to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague.
"OPCW has confirmed that it has received the expected disclosure from the Syrian government regarding its chemical weapons programme," the organization announced on its website. "The Technical Secretariat is currently reviewing the information received."
The watchdog had announced Friday that the handover of information from the Syrian government was incomplete, but this claim was reversed by its Saturday statement.
The timeline for Syria's chemical weapons disarmament was set by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who gave Syria until Saturday to reveal its full chemical arsenal. Syria is believed to possess approximately 1,000 tons of chemical weapons.
As Syria meets its first deadline, the U.S. and Russia remain sharply divided over key issues. The U.S. holds that the Syrian government was responsible for the August 21st Al-Ghouta chemical attacks, even though the recent UN confirming chemical weapons use did not determine culpability. Russian officials argue that it is still not clear who is responsible for the chemical attacks and claim there is evidence forces opposing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind them.
Furthermore, the US government insists on maintaining threat of force throughout the disarmament process. Russian officials stand opposed to the continued threats and against invoking the UN's Chapter VII resolution without evidence of Syrian noncompliance, arguing this would be disruptive to efforts to achieve a peaceful solution.