* Kerry says essential that deal with Russians is enforced
* Assad must see weapons stockpiles destroyed by next year
* Russia unhappy with parts of draft U.N. resolution
* Logistics of how deal will be implemented murky
By Alexei Anishchuk and Arshad Mohammed
MOSCOW/WASHINGTON, Sept 19 Russian President
Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he could not be 100 percent
certain a U.S.-Russian plan for the destruction of Syrian
chemical arms would be carried out successfully, but he saw
reason to hope it would.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was essential the
deal reached last Saturday be enforced and that the U.N.
Security Council be willing to act on it next week, when the
U.N. General Assembly holds its annual meeting in New York.
"The Security Council must be prepared to act next week,"
Kerry told reporters In Washington. "It is vital for the
international community to stand up and speak out in the
strongest possible terms about the importance of enforcible
action to rid the world of Syria's chemical weapons."
Putin told a gathering of journalists and Russia experts in
the Russian town of Valdai that he could not be 100 percent
certain the plan for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons
"But everything we have seen so far in recent days gives us
confidence that this will happen," he said, adding, "I hope so."
Russia and the United States brokered the deal to
put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's chemical arms stockpiles
under international control to avoid possible U.S. military
strikes that Washington said would be intended to punish Assad
for a poison gas attack last month.
Under the U.S.-Russian deal, Assad must account for his
chemical weapon stockpiles within a week and see them destroyed
by the middle of next year.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -
the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - have been
discussing a draft resolution this week that Western powers hope
will make the deal legally binding.
But Russia, a key ally of Assad, is unhappy with the draft's
references to possible punitive measures against Syria under
Article 7 of the U.N. charter, which talks about U.N.
authorisation for sanctions and military force.
Diplomats say the resolution could come to a vote as early
as this weekend or next week.
ASSAD SAYS DISPOSAL COMPLEX, EXPENSIVE
Assad said on Wednesday his government was willing to get
rid of its chemical weapons but it would be a very complicated
operation that would take about a year and cost about $1
"If the American administration is ready to pay this money
and take the responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the
United States, why don't they do it?" Assad said in an interview
with Fox News.
Assad again denied his forces were responsible for a
chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, outside Damascus, on Aug. 21.
Putin also reiterated Russia's contention that the attack was
staged by opponents of Assad.
The United States says the attack killed more than 1,400
people, including more than 400 children.
U.N. chemical investigators confirmed on Monday the use of
sarin in a long-awaited report that the United States, Britain
and France said proved government forces were responsible.
Logistics as to how the deal to destroy the chemical weapons
would be implemented have been murky.
Russia and the United States are the only countries with
industrial-scale capacity to handle mustard, VX, sarin or
cyanide-armed munitions, but the import of chemical weapons is
banned under U.S. law.
Russia has been destroying its own Soviet-era chemical
weapons in line with an agreement with the United States and has
seven facilities for the destruction of chemical weapons,
according to information on Russian Munitions Agency website.
But Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday
that Russia had no current plans to destroy Syrian chemical
weapons on its territory.
Asked whether Russia had such plans, Shoigu told Interfax
news agency: "No. A decision needs to be taken for this."
"We have factories for the destruction of chemical weapons,
but there is a big difference between 'ready' and 'willing'."
In a speech on Thursday, the head of NATO welcomed the
U.S.-Russian agreement and said individual NATO nations may
agree to help implement the deal, but the 28-nation alliance
itself was unlikely to play a role.
Speaking in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh
Rasmussen also said it was essential for keeping momentum in the
diplomatic and political process that the military option
remained on the table.
The violence that has cost more than 100,000 lives in Syria
in the past 2 1/2 years continued on Thursday.
Near the Turkish frontier, al Qaeda-linked fighters battled
a rival Syrian rebel group for a second day after the militant
Islamists stormed a nearby town and prompted Turkey to shut a
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed at least 14 members of
Assad's minority Alawite sect in the central Syrian province of
Homs, a Syrian opposition monitoring group said.