US, Russia agree to ambitious plan for dealing with Syria’s chemical weapons

GENEVA (AP) — Marathon negotiations between the U.S. and Russia have produced an agreement on securing and destroying Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The diplomatic breakthrough averts the threat of U.S. military action for the moment, but it will require one of the most ambitious arms-control efforts in history. It involves making an inventory and seizing all components of Syria’s chemical weapons program, and imposing penalties if the Syrian government fails to comply will the terms.

The U.S. and Russia are giving Syria just one week, until Sept. 21, to submit “a comprehensive listing” of all its chemical weapons and where they are kept.

International inspectors are to be on the ground in Syria by November. During that month, they are to complete their initial assessment and all mixing and filling equipment for chemical weapons is to be destroyed. They are to be given “immediate and unfettered” access to inspect all sites.

All components of the chemical weapons program are to be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014.

If Syria fails to comply, it would face punitive action by the U.N. Security Council.

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