12 Sep 2013

Assad: I will hand over chemical weapons because of Russia

President Assad tells Russian TV that the threat of a US missile strike hasn’t influenced him at all, while the UN says it has received documentation on Syria joining the chemical weapons convention.

The threat of American military action did not affect President Bashar al-Assad at all in his decision to hand over his chemical weapons, he told Russian TV on Thursday.

Dismissing the idea that the punitive cruise missile strikes by America may have led him to a compromise, President Assad said it was the Russian diplomatic proposal that changed his mind on his chemical weapon stockpiles.

“Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision,” he told Russia’s state TV channel Rossiya-24.

President Assad did say that Syria would submit documents to the UN agreeing the terms for the handover of its chemical arsenal.

Later on Thursday, the UN announced it had received documents from the Syrian government which address the country’s potential joining of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty. “In the past few hours we have received a document from the government of Syria … which is to be an accession document concerning the chemical weapons convention,” said UN spokesperson Farhan Haq.

Though the UN has blamed President Assad’s government for the poison gas attacks in Damascus that killed hundreds in August, including many children , the Syrian government still denies it has used the poison gas it holds.

The announcement comes just before the US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with other members of the UN security council in Geneva to discuss details of how Syria could hand over its chemical weaponry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the initiative will not succeed unless Washington abandons plans for potential air strikes to punish President Assad for using the banned weapons in an attack in which many died.