U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday they have reached an agreement on a framework for Syria to destroy all of its chemical weapons, and raised the specter of a potential U.N. Security Council resolution that could authorize sanctions — even military action — if President Bashar Assad's government fails to comply.
The diplomats announced on the third day of intense negotiations in Geneva that some elements of the deal include a timetable and how Syria must comply. Notably, Kerry said they had agreed on grounds under which they might request a Security Council "Chapter 7" resolution — authorizing both military and non-military sanctions.
The U.S. and Russia are two of the five permanent Security Council members with a veto. The others are Britain, China, and France.
Kerry said any violations will result in "measures" from the Security Council, while Lavrov said the violations must be sent to the Security Council from the board of the chemical weapons convention before sanctions — short of the use of force — would be considered.
At a news conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Kerry said the inspectors must be on the ground by November and destruction or removal of the chemical weapons must be completed by mid-2014.
"We have committed to a standard that says, verify and verify," he said.
Lavrov called the agreements a "decision based on consensus and compromise and professionalism."
"Any violations of procedures ... would be looked at by the Security Council and if they are approved, the Security Council would take the required measures, concrete measures," Lavrov said. "Nothing is said about the use of force or about any automatic sanctions. All violations should be approved by the Security Council."
Kerry said the pair and their teams of experts had reached "a shared assessment" of Syria's weapons stockpile and that Syria must destroy all of its weapons.
The negotiations between the United States and Russia on securing Syria's chemical weapons also are considered key to a resumption of peace talks to end the 2 ½-year Syrian civil war.