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U.N. Ambassador: U.S. Got What It Sought With Syria Resolution

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power.
Richard Drew
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power.

In an interview with All Things Considered's Robert Siegel, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power says the U.S. got what it sought in a U.N. draft resolution that calls for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons or face "consequences."

Robert pressed Power about that assertion, because the resolution seems to require a second resolution to approve the consequences. So given how hard Russia has fought to get to this point, what are the odds that it will acquiesce to a new resolution approving military force or further economic sanctions for non-compliance?

"It did take us a long time, certainly, to get a product of any kind out the council... As you know this is the first U.N. Security Council Resolution that places any obligations on Syria," Power said. "So it has taken an attack of this gravity and this horror to get Russia to join us in a cooperative posture. But the resolution itself is imposing a pretty distinct form of accountability on the Syrian regime in taking its chemical weapons away and in rendering it legally binding and in requiring that those chemical weapons be taken away. So while I'm sure there will be disagreements about whether there is compliance... at a strategic level, we're going to know whether Syria's chemical weapons have been destroyed. We're going to know whether they've been used. And we think we'll have the force of global opinion on our side in the event we come back to the council."

"But you would have to come back to the Council if it came to that — to approve any consequences for non-compliance?" Robert asked.

"We got what we sought in this resolution which was deciding that the Council would impose Chapter VII measures in the event of non-compliance," Power responded. "We also got criteria by which non-compliance would be measured. And reporting back to the Security Council, which was something that was resisted initially. That reporting back is important because it means the inspectors on the ground can come back to the Council even on a day to day basis to complain about any obstruction they are facing."

Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter includes a provision for taking military action against another country.

As we've reported, the draft resolution is the culmination of weeks of diplomatic haggling with the Russians, who have said that there is no Chapter VII trigger in the resolution.

If you remember, as Congress was weighing whether to authorize military action, Russia seized on an apparently off-the-cuff suggestion by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said the U.S. was willing to back off its war footing if Syria gave up its entire chemical arsenal quickly and in a verifiable manner.

Syria quickly signed papers that opened the door for membership into the Chemical Weapons Convention and the U.S. and Russia worked through the U.N. to try to put together a resolution that would enforce the U.S.-Russia agreement.

The full Security Council is scheduled to meet to debate the measure on Friday night.

We'll post the as-aired version of Robert's interview with Samantha Power later tonight.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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