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Russian plan to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons stockpile welcomed by Israel - cautiously

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Military intervention against Syria, over alleged a chemical weapon attacks against unarmed civilians in a suburb near Damascus has apparently been halted over a bold plan proposed by Russia. Under the agreement, Syria would unload its chemical weapon arsenal, whereupon it would be dismantled. Israel, who would be vulnerable to attack in the event of a United States-led strike against Syria, seems to welcome this news . with reservations.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I cannot say that we have full faith, but if this Russian proposal ... will really remove the chemical weaponry from Syria, first of all, and will then dismantle it ... then this is a way to end this tragedy and a way to end this threat too," Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

Steinitz, close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced cautious support for the plan, which would include putting Syria's chemical weapons under international control.

Steinitz, speaking on Israel's Army Radio said that any implementation of the plan should also require that Moscow "guarantee Syria is cleansed of chemical weaponry."

In response, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry along with his Russian counterpart Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet in Geneva shortly to hammer out an agreement on a strategy to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.

Israel has been largely reticent and has avoided public comment. The government there does not want to appear in meddling over a big-power struggle over the Syrian civil war. Tensions have escalated to an international scale since President Bashar al-Assad's forces' alleged gas attack near Damascus on August 21.

Netanyahu on Wednesday demanded the Assad government be "stripped of its chemical weapons" but stopped short of specifically endorsing the Russian proposal.

Steinitz's remark imply that Israel would want any consensual decommissioning of Syria's chemical arsenal by sending it abroad first.

David Friedman, a former counter-proliferation official with Israel's Defense Ministry, told Reuters that neutralizing the weapons inside Syria could take one to two years. The process could be shortened were they shipped out to Russia, which is better equipped with chemical counter-agents and incinerators.

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Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)