Syria asks UN to join chemical arms treaty

The United Nations on Thursday received documents from the Syrian government seeking to join the international convention banning chemical weapons, a spokesman said.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government will not, however, immediately join the 1993 convention which bans the production and stockpiling of the arms, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

The United States and its allies accused Assad’s government of staging an August 21 attack with sarin gas near Damascus in which hundreds died.

In a bid to head off a threatened western military strike, Russia has proposed a plan to put Syria’s chemical arsenal under international control.

Syria said it will join the international convention as part of the plan.

“In the past few hours we have received a document from the government of Syria which is being translated,” said Haq, adding that it was “an accession document concerning the chemical weapons convention.”

According to UN experts, accession is where a country accepts the terms of a treaty and normally has the same legal effect as ratification.

Haq said it would be “the first step” to becoming a full member of the convention and it would take “a period of days” before Syria formally joins the convention.