Syria civil war: Russia tables plan for chemical weapons handover to rival French proposals, as Obama tells American public he will give diplomacy a chance

France’s scheme gives Assad a 15-day time limit before risking the use of force, while Russia says it will discuss its proposals with the US on Thursday

New York

Russia has provided the US with a detailed plan which, if acceptable, could pave the way for the Syrian government to hand over its chemical weapons into international control.

Sources close to the Russian foreign ministry told the news agency Interfax that the documentation is now with the US, in a move anticipated by Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday.

Mr Kerry is set to meet his Russian counterpart in Geneva to discuss the proposals tomorrow, but there is some way to go before an international agreement is reached over what Prime Minister David Cameron has warned could be a “ruse” to distract the world from military action.

An earlier draft UN resolution, written up by France in its own plans for making the Syrian government hand over its chemical weapons, would give the Assad regime just 15 days to provide a full account of its entire stockpile.

And as US President Barack Obama told the American public last night that he had asked the US Congress to pause before voting on whether to back military strikes against Syria, his country is engaged with France and the UK – and now Russia – in trying to come up with a strong but realistic scheme which would deny Bashar al-Assad the capability for future chemical atrocities.

Last night French diplomats were struggling to complete a draft for consideration by the Security Council that would give Syria a concrete 15 day deadline.

That effort almost immediately hit rapids, however, when Russia objected to the French offering that included the possibility of the use of force to ensure Syrian compliance as well as explicit condemnation of the regime.

Ahead of his commitments today to commemoration services marking the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mr Obama said last night that diplomacy would have its chance in seeking a path through the UN towards forcing the regime in Damascus to give up its chemical weapons.

In his long-anticipated address to the nation from inside the White House, Mr Obama asserted that it had been the credible threat of US action that had in part precipitated the dramatic diplomatic activity of the last days springing from a Russian initiative requiring that the Syrian government hand over the chemical arsenal for dismantlement.

Speaking in primetime for 15 minutes, Mr Obama acknowledged strikes would be unpopular at home but said the horror of chemical weapons meant America could not look away. “For nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security,” he argued. “This has meant doing more than forging international agreements - it has meant enforcing them.  The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them.”

Mr Obama confirmed he was dispatching Secretary of State, John Kerry, to Geneva for direct talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on Thursday. The outcome of that meeting will give western capitals a better idea of how serious an effort for peace Moscow is making or whether it is engaged in stalling tactic on Syria’s behalf.

“I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the UN Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control,” Mr Obama explained, adding that he would also give the UN inspectors time to report on their findings in Syria.

His speech was divided into two parts, the first laying out why he thinks it is incumbent on America to punish Syria for using chemical weapons and the second explaining why he is pushing the pause button to give the latest diplomatic effort a chance. “It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed,” Mr Obama warned.  “And any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad's strongest allies.”

As for the argument for responding to Syria’s alleged crimes, Mr Obama offered some history going back to the World War I and the decades spent trying to outlaw chemical weapons. He argued also that turning a blind eye would give license to Bashar al-Assad and others to resort to gas in the future. “If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons,” Mr Obama said. “As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them.”

He also invited Americans to turn to their laptops and smartphones and view the videos of gassed civilians in Syria. “The images from this massacre are sickening: men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas; others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath; a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.”

Further action at the UN in New York is now likely to await the Kerry-Lavrov meeting in Geneva. The French draft of a UN resolution tabled yesterday that drew instant Russian opposition includes a warning that the UN would be ready “in the event of non-compliance by the Syrian authorities with the provisions of this resolution ... to adopt further necessary measures under Chapter VII” of the UN Charter, which allows for the use of force.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz