Iran offers help in Syria chemical weapons destruction

Iran offers help in Syria chemical weapons destruction

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran is prepared to help with the enforcement of an agreement reached between Russia and the US on a framework for Syria to annihilate its chemical weapons, PressTV reported.

"We have to move now to the implementation of the Syrian chemical weapons convention," Zarif said in an interview with Al-Monitor website on Tuesday.

"It's going to be tough, we will be prepared to help in order to make sure that [the agreement] is implemented correctly and speedily," the Iranian minister stated.

He emphasized that Iran supported the diplomatic process leading to the US-Russia framework to destroy Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons.

The minister pointed to "positive" Iran-Russia cooperation on Syria to avert the catastrophic outcomes of a war.

"It was averted through a concerted effort on the part of a number of players, including Iran and Russia, and the United States, and a good number of other players, because there were forces that were pushing for war," Zarif said.

On September 14, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal under which Syria must account for its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week and see them eliminated by the middle of 2014. Syria has agreed to the deal.

Under the US-Russian deal, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) team should finish the work by November. Some arsenals will be eliminated safely and destroyed outside Syria, while others will be destroyed inside the country.

The mission of the OPCW comes after a UN team of chemical weapons inspectors wrapped up its investigation into a deadly chemical attack near Damascus on August 21.

Washington threatened to take military action against Syria over an unsubstantiated claim that the Syrian government had been behind the August attack.

Syria strongly rejected the allegation, saying the attack had been carried out by the foreign-backed militants to draw in military intervention.

Zarif further expressed Iran's readiness to attend the planned Geneva 2 international conference on Syria but "only if asked."

"We are not begging to be invited. If they ask us to go, we will go, without any conditions, and we do not accept any conditions," the top Iranian diplomat stated.

On May 7, Russia and the US agreed in the Russian capital, Moscow, to convene an international conference on Syria, which will serve as a follow-up to an earlier Geneva meeting held in June 2012.

However, the date of the event keeps slipping as Syria's opposition coalition remains divided over taking part in the second round of Geneva talks. They have repeatedly refused to take part in the conference unless Syrian President Bashar al-Assad steps down.

The Syrian government has already announced that it is ready to take part in the peace conference without any preconditions in an effort to help end over two years of deadly turmoil in the country.

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