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From Sputnik News:
The Russian Foreign Ministry has reminded US that all chemical weapons have been taken out of Syria in mid-2014 with Washington’s assistance.
Russia considers US Vice President Mike Pence’s statements claiming that Moscow and Damascus allegedly did not fulfill obligations to destroy Syrian nuclear arsenal to be groundless, the ministry said.
Pence has no grounds to say that the 2013 deal on the Syrian chemical weapons’ destruction failed.
On Wednesday, commenting on reports of a deadly chemical weapons attack this week in Idlib province, Pence blamed a “failure of the past administration to… hold Russia and Syria to account for the promises to destroy chemical weapons.”
“In this case, we are dealing with not only irresponsibility, but also with lack of knowledge on the issue. The new US administration has only recently begun to review its policies. When it [the process] is over, estimates we hear from officials will hopefully become more precise. There are no grounds to claim that the 2013 Russia-US deal did not work out,” Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department Director Mikhail Ulyanov said.
Ulyanov said “already by mid-2014 all the precursors of chemical weapons were taken out of Syrian territory.”
“The main burden fell on Damascus and Russia. But the US also made its important contribution,” he noted, highlighting the Russian-US cooperation on the issue as “quite successful as a whole.”
Russia hopes that the US will support Moscow’s proposals on the UNSC resolution over the Idlib chemical attack. “We hope that the US side will support our proposal if it is in fact interested in finding out the truth.”
“I would like to hope that we will find mutually acceptable solution in the UN Security Council. We have made our proposals.”
Moscow said that it is premature to accuse the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in Idlib, adding that Russia insists on conducting a full-fledged probe into the issue. Moscow “insists on making more effective decisions in this matter than what was proposed in the US-UK-French draft resolution” in current discussions of the draft resolution, the diplomat added.
“If the reason for these [US’ officials] accusations were reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in the vicinity of the Khan Shaykhun settlement in the Idlib province on April 4, then blaming the Syrian government for this is at least premature, he concluded. “First of all, an investigation should be conducted, and a thorough one.”
In 2013, the Syrian authorities agreed to transfer its stockpiled chemical weapons to international control for their subsequent destruction, so as to prevent them from falling into the hands of militants operating in the country.
Syrian opposition claimed Tuesday forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had used a chemical gas on people in the northwestern province, killing nearly 80 and injuring 200. Assad argued his government has no chemical weapons after agreeing to have them destroyed in 2013. He also ruled out having used chemicals against own people.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said earlier in the day that the US-UK-France-backed draft resolution on the chemical weapons in Syria is based on fake reports mosty from the White Helmets and the SOHR “which cannot be called reliable.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said early Wednesday the airstrike near Khan Shaykhun was carried out by Syrian aircraft, which struck a terrorist warehouse that stored chemical weapons slated for delivery to Iraq.
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