The UN Security Council voted unanimously late Friday to approve an ambitious plan requiring Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction, the first major motion approved in more than two years of the Syrian conflict. While binding Syria to allow its chemical arsenal to be secured and destroyed, the motion contains no penalties for its failure to comply. To win Russian and Chinese endorsement, the US and European diplomats agreed to strike out the section compelling Syria to comply and holding its use of chemical weapons to account.
To enforce the motion by penalties would require a second Security Council motion and another battle against Moscow’s resistance. President Barack Obama hailed the motion as a major victory and breakthrough for diplomacy. The work of auditing Syria’s chemical arsenal begins next week.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the resolution would for the first time seek to eliminate entirely a nation's chemical weapons capability. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also hailed the move, saying Moscow "ready to take part in all operations" in Syria. However, he stressed that the success of international efforts was "not only on Damascus' shoulders" and that Syrian opposition must co-operate.