European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has praised a UN resolution to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, pledging an EU “forceful” support in case of non - compliance.
The UN Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a landmark resolution, ordering the elimination of Syria's chemical arms and condemned gas attack in Damascus. However, it does not call for automatic punitive action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government if it does not comply. “This decision should pave the way to the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, and set a standard for the international community in responding to threats posed by weapons of mass destruction,” Ashton said in a statement on Friday. Ashton described the resolution as “a major step towards a sustainable and unified international response to the crisis in Syria.” Ashton reiterated the EU’s “readiness to support actions foreseen under the resolution,” including “a forceful international reaction in the event of non-compliance.” The resolution came after days of intense negotiations between the United States and Russia. They had been at odds over Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which regulates the use of military force. The Western members of the council have been pushing for a resolution on the use of force while Russia and China are strongly opposed to any attack on Syria. Since March 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions proposed by European states threatening military action and sanctions against Damascus. The two countries are also opposing the current push by the United States to launch a war on Syria, vowing to veto any resolution that paves the way for the military action. Friday’s unanimous vote was based on a deal between Moscow and Washington reached in Geneva earlier this month following an August 21 chemical weapons attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people in the suburbs of Damascus. The war rhetoric against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces accused the Assad government of launching the chemical attack on militant strongholds. Damascus has vehemently denied the accusations, saying the attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation. On September 16, the United Nations issued a report by UN investigators, which said sarin nerve agent was used in the attack that allegedly killed hundreds of people. The UN team's mandate did not include assigning blame for the attack. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.