A U.S.-Russian plan to remove chemical weapons from Syria will become a new blueprint for disarming other hostile nations, America's top diplomat says.
Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Israel this weekend for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about future negotiations with Palestine. The pair also discussed the new proposal for disarming the Bashar Assad regime of its chemical weapons, which Kerry helped negotiate with Russian counterparts late last week.
The Obama administration insists this new agreement was spurred on by the threat of U.S. military intervention in Syria, which Kerry said should represent a new worldwide warning.
"With respect to the removal of these weapons and the containment of these weapons...if we achieve that, we will have set a marker for the standard of behavior with respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea and any other state, rogue state [or] group that decides to try to reach for these kinds of weapons," Kerry said in joint press conference with Netanyahu.
The Israeli prime minister said disarming Syria of its chemical weapons makes the region and the world much safer.
"The world needs to ensure that radical regimes don't have weapons of mass destruction, because as we've learned once again in Syria, if rogue regimes have weapons of mass destruction, they will use them," he said. "The determination the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime's patron, Iran."
Kerry traveled to Geneva late last week for negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. They agreed on a new framework for disarming the Assad regime of its chemical stockpiles, which includes a one-week deadline for Syria to fully disclose the types, quantities and locations of all of its chemical weapons.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will oversee the destruction of the arms outside of Syria, to be completed no later than mid-2014, according to the agreement.
OPCW must have begun on-site inspections in Syria by November.
A group representing the Syrian opposition is frustrated by the agreement, saying it buys more time for the Assad regime to use conventional weapons more intensely against the rebel fighters.
"The Syrian Coalition considers the Russian proposal encouraging to the Assad regime and will continue its aggressive behavior inside Syria," said the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces in a statement on Sunday. "It emboldens the regime to escalate its military offensive as there has already been an intensified aerial bombardment on towns and villages across Syria."
Assad has a track record of breaking agreements, particularly those that deal with restrictions on weapons, the group says. This agreement will only give him more time to conduct strikes on the fighters with all but a license from international support, the rebels say.