A senior Russian diplomat on Thursday said his nation would not accept any Syrian chemical-arms shipment to its territory under plans to subject the weapons to international monitoring and destruction, Reuters reported.
"There can be no doubt -- we will not do this," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. An international treaty prohibits such transfers, and domestic legal restrictions also would prevent the United States from importing the weapons, he added in comments reported by the Russian government news agency RIA Novosti.
"We believe the destruction (of chemical weapons) on Syrian territory is the best option," he said. Interfax quoted him as saying Russian officials "will be ready to help in guarding" Syrian chemical-arms facilities where work is being carried out.
Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington have hammered out broad parameters of a U.N. Security Council resolution on their plan to rid the Syrian government of its chemical-warfare stockpile, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. The draft would allow for potential penalties in response to any noncompliance by Damascus, but the text would not contain an outright endorsement of possible military strikes.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly said his government holds weapons more potent than chemical arms, Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reported.
“Initially, we manufactured chemical arms in the 80s as a deterrent weapon to confront Israel’s nuclear arsenal," the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar on Thursday quoted him as saying.
"Now, they are no longer a deterrent weapon. Today, we have more important and more sophisticated weapons that can blind Israel in a moment.”