Syria has submitted documents requesting to join an international chemical weapons treaty, according to the country's U.N. ambassador and a letter sent to U.S. officials on Thursday. The U.N. confirmed that it has received the country's application to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international agreement prohibits the possession, production, and use of chemical weapons, and heavily regulates the use of specified precursors to the creation of those weapons.
Assad's government would have to declare any chemical weapons, and destroy them, in order to become a member of the agreement. According to a U.N. spokesperson, the organization is still translating the initial documents sent by Syria. On Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva for two days of related negotiations with Russia, with the aim of disarming Syria and destroying its chemical weapons capability through diplomacy.
According to the plan Russia is floating in those negotiations, Syria would have to join the Chemical Weapons Convention as a first step. Then, the country would declare their stockpiles of the weapons. Finally, experts would determine how to destroy the weapons. And it looks like Assad's government is already hoping to demonstrate their initial commitment to such a plan, while making sure that nobody thinks the U.S.'s threat of military action had anything to do with the tentative agreement. "Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The US threats did not influence the decision," Assad told a state-run Russian TV station. The U.S.-backed plan for Syrian disarmament, written by France, was met with Russian objection.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports, the full U.N. report on Syria's August 21st chemical weapons attack could be released as soon as Monday. That report, which won't establish culpability, is expected to corroborate at least some of the findings cited by U.S. intelligence on the scope of the attack.