US, Russia agree on Syria deal, sources say

Updated
A Free Syrian Army fighter walks through a window in Salah al-Din neighborhood in central Aleppo, Sept. 20, 2013.
A Free Syrian Army fighter walks through a window in Salah al-Din neighborhood in central Aleppo, Sept. 20, 2013.
Loubna Mrie/Reuters

The United States and Russia have come to an agreement on a draft resolution to enforce the handover of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon stockpiles, diplomatic sources confirmed to NBC News Thursday.

The resolution includes language citing Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter–which allows for more forceful enforcement tactics than negotiation, like diplomatic and economic coercion, and failing that, the use of military force–but the draft resolution is not explicit in authorizing the use of force should Assad renege on the deal, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell reported.

While U.S. and Russia had agreed on a plan for Assad to cede his chemical arms to international control, and Assad has turned over an accounting of his chemical weapons, President Obama just this week pressed for a “strong” U.N. resolution to enforce the deal.

The deal could be a stunning turnaround from a month ago when it appeared Obama would order a U.S. military strike on Syria after U.S. intelligence showed that an Assad regime chemical attack had killed nearly 1,500 civilians. After intense pressure from lawmakers, unpopularity in American polls, and failing to gain strong international support for such a strike, Obama said he would ask Congress to OK a strike. But a Russian proposal-sparked by Sec. John Kerry offhand remarks–upended that diplomatic track and landed back in the hands of the U.N.

The five permanent members of the U.N. security council, led by the U.S. and Russia, have been negotiating since on how a material breach by the Assad regime would be defined and met by the international community. France reportedly helped broker this latest deal.

With Russian backing, the draft is virtually sure to pass a U.N. vote. Should Assad breach the agreement by using chemical weapons, the Obama administration and other world powers would have a mandate for a coordinated response under international law.

Watch Andrea Mitchell’s interview with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh below: 

 

US, Russia agree on Syria deal, sources say

Updated