Kerry: Syria has 1 000 tonnes of chemicals

Syria has stockpiled about 1 000 tonnes of numerous chemical agents including sarin and mustard gases, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday in Washington.

Kerry told US lawmakers that some of the agents were unmixed "binary components", while others were probably stored in tanks.

Meanwhile, France's foreign minister said after talks with his Russian counterpart that Russia is not keen at this stage for a binding United Nations Security Council resolution that would provide a framework to control Syria's chemical weapons' stocks.

"As I understood, the Russians at this stage were not necessarily enthusiastic, and I'm using euphemism, to put all that into the framework of a UN binding resolution," Laurent Fabius told French lawmakers after a telephone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

This comes as Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron – reacting to a Russian proposal for Syria to surrender chemical weapons – said to the UN Security Council later on Tuesday that Britain, France and the United States will table a resolution on Syrian chemical weapons.


Cameron was speaking after Syria accepted the proposal in order to win a possible reprieve from punitive US military strikes, which US President Barack Obama has floated as a way of preventing a repeat of a suspected chemical attack on August 21.

Surrender chemical arms
Cameron, who said he had just spoken to Obama about the issue, told lawmakers: "If this is a serious proposal then we should act accordingly and I think a UN Security Council resolution is a good idea."

"In that resolution I think it's quite important that we have some clarity about thresholds. We need to know that there's a proper timetable for doing this, we need to know there'd be a proper process for doing it, and crucially there'd have to be consequences if it wasn't done."

Cameron said the world needed to test how genuine the Russian proposal to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control was, saying it was important to make sure the idea wasn't "some delaying tactic, some ruse".

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said separately that time was "short" to try to ensure that the Syrian offer to surrender its chemical arms was credible, noting that President Bashar al-Assad's government had "consistently failed to match promises with action". – Reuters; AFP

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