Syrian President Bashar al - Assad says Damascus’s decision to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal was the result of Russia’s proposal and had nothing to do with the US threat of war.
" There ' s a misunderstanding that we agreed with this agreement because of the Americans, " AFP quoted Assad as saying during an interview with Fox News broadcast on Wednesday. " Actually, if you go back before the G20[summit], before the proposal, the Russians, it wasn ' t about handing over the chemical arsenal, " he said, referring to a Russian proposal to put Damascus’s chemical weapons under international control. " It was about attacking Syria in order not to use the arsenal again, " he said, in reference to US President Barack Obama ' s call for military action against Syria.
" So it ' s not about the threat. Syria never obeyed any threat. We actually responded to the Russian initiative and to our needs and to our conviction, " he noted.
He also said that Damascus will destroy its chemical weapons arsenal, but the process will take a year and cost the Arab country a billion dollars. "I think it's a very complicated operation, technically. And it needs a lot of money, about a billion," Assad said. "So it depends, you have to ask the experts what they mean by quickly. It has a certain schedule. It needs a year, or maybe a little bit more," he added. Under the agreement, which was announced on Saturday after three days of talks in Geneva by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, Syria will provide an inventory of its chemical arsenal within one week and hand over all of the components of its program by mid-2014. On Monday, UN inspectors, who investigated the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, reported that chemical weapons had been deployed “on a relatively large scale” in the Syria conflict. The report, which was presented to the UN Security Council by chief UN chemical weapons investigator Ake Sellstrom, said there was "clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used in Ein Tarma, Moadamiyah and Amalaka in the Ghouta area of Damascus." The UN team's mandate did not include assigning blame for the attack. The United States, France, Britain and the foreign-sponsored militants blamed the Syrian government for the attack. The Syrian government has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation. On September 10, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said that Damascus was ready to implement the Russian proposal to place its chemical weapons arsenal under international control. The Russian government proposed the initiative during a meeting between Lavrov and Muallem in Moscow on September 9. In response, US President Barack Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on authorizing military action against Syria in order to give the Russian proposal a chance to play out.