The United States and Russia say they have reached an agreement on a framework for securing Syria's chemical weapons, a move that appears to avert a looming military strike threatened by Washington in retaliation for the Assad regime's alleged gas attack on a rebel-held area near Damascus.
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While Russia's plan to place Syria's chemical weapons under international control faces its own diplomatic hurdles, defence and weapons experts are pointing out the immense and practical challenges of dismantling such a program.
The process sounds relatively simple and would be carried out in a few phases. After the terms of weapons inspections in Syria have been agreed upon, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have to declare his stockpiles to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — the group in charge of implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Then, the OPCW would send inspectors into Syria to verify Assad's declaration. After that, the process of dismantling the chemical weapons plants and the declared stockpiles would begin.