Syria Diplomacy Starting to Break Up on the Shoals of Reality

| Thu Sep. 12, 2013 3:22 PM EDT

Here's the latest from Syria:

Syria will start handing over information on its chemical weapons to international groups a month after it signs the Chemical Weapons Convention, President Bashar Assad has told a Russian TV channel....“I believe the agreement will come into force a month after the signing and Syria will start submitting data on its chemical weapons stockpile to international organizations. These are standard procedures and we are going to stick to them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN says that it has received a letter from Syria on the country’s intention to join the treaty banning the production of chemical arms, their stockpiling and use. The Syrian government’s letter of accession is being translated, AP cited UN associate spokesman Farhan Haq as saying Thursday. Signing the letter accession begins the process for a country to become party to the international agreement, the official said.

It doesn’t mean that Syria will sign the documents, fulfill the obligations and that’s it. It’s a bilateral process aimed, first of all, at making the US stop pursuing its policy of threats against Syria,” Assad said, adding that a lot would also depend on the extent to which Russia’s proposal is accepted.

The Washington Post has a more definitive quote from Assad's interview: "When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized."

So....this doesn't sound very promising, does it? Assad is apparently saying that Syria will (a) sign the convention, (b) wait a month, (c) start submitting data, and then (d) eventually start getting rid of its chemical weapons. Or maybe not. It all depends on whether the U.S. stops arming the rebels. Stay tuned.

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