Syria declares its chemical weapons arsenal, first step in US-Russian deal

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to reporters Friday at the State Department. Charles Dharapak / AP

Syria on Friday submitted to the world a declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile, apparently fulfilling the first requirement of a U.S.-Russian deal that staved off an American military attack.

Syria sent the details to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which comprises the 189 countries that have signed an agreement outlawing chemical warfare. The organization said through a spokesman that it had received the declaration, but it did not provide details.

Secretary of State John Kerry, at an appearance with the Dutch foreign minister, said that he had spoken with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, about the Syrian declaration.

Kerry said that he and Lavrov had also discussed “a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations. We will continue to work on that.”

A State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, later said that the declaration was a good start.

“We have now a document we didn’t have yesterday,” she said. “I don’t want to prejudge the assessment of that document other than to say that it — that it’s here, and we’ll be taking a look at it.”

She said that she did not know why the OPCW had canceled a meeting planned for Sunday to destruction of Syria’s nuclear arsenal.

The U.S.-Russian agreement, announced last Saturday in Geneva, also requires Syria to allow the U.N. inspectors to start chemical-weapons inspections no later than November. It calls for the elimination of Syria chemical weapons by the middle of next year.

The United States had threatened a military strike to punish Syrian leader Bashar Assad for using sarin gas in an attack Aug. 21 on rebels in the Syrian civil war. The United States says that more than 1,400 people, including civilians, were killed.