The U.S.-Russian negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons, now underway in Geneva, will determine whether President Barack Obama can walk back his threat to launch punitive strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But they will also impact the paradigm for addressing WMD elsewhere, particularly Iran. Depending on the outcome of the talks over Syria, the U.S. could find itself with new options for negotiating a deal to resolve the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program—or find the door to a peaceful outcome firmly shut.
U.S. officials have characterized the Russian plan to secure Syrian chemical weapons as "doable but difficult," and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has publicly declared that "Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control." Ongoing Russian-American meetings in Geneva are designed to provide the framework for any deal and to set down the parameters for how it would be implemented in practice, with both countries bringing to the talks not only diplomats but also intelligence personnel and specialists in securing and destroying chemical weapons. ...
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