Syria 'will comply' with UN resolution on chemical weapons

Syria's information minister Omran al-Zoubi speaks to ITV News' Bill Neely. Credit: ITV News

In an interview with ITV News International Editor Bill Neely, the Syrian information minister gave the first official government response to the US-Russia agreement on chemical weapons.

Omran al-Zoubi said Syria will "comply" with a United Nations Security Council resolution on its chemical weapons.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Question: The US and Russia have agreed a deal to rid Syria of chemical weapons by the middle of next year. Do you accept this deal in its entirety?

Answer: Syria accepts the Russian proposal. We are joining the Chemical Weapons Convention. We take this agreement very seriously. The Russian proposal will turn into something more concrete, into a fact when it goes to the UN.

Question: You seem to be making a distinction between the Russian proposal - which you accept - and the deal struck between the US and Russia. Are you? Do you accept one but not the other?

Answer: The Russian proposal needed a US agreement in order to be effective. The meeting between the Russian and American foreign ministers was natural in order to turn this proposal into a fact, before going to the UN and before accepting the support of other countries.

Question: The deal says you must provide a full list of your chemical weapons within seven days. Will you provide this list in that time?

Answer: Syria will do what it says. Syria will accept whatever comes from the UN Security Council on this deal. Syria has accepted the Russian proposal and is joining the Chemical Weapons Convention. The rest is only detail, procedural detail and not very important.

Question: Will you provide this list just days from now?

Answer: This issue will go to the UN Security Council. Syria will commit itself and respect whatever comes from the council and it will comply.

Question: Is the timetable in the deal a timetable you accept?

Answer: Syria is serious in keeping its promises and Syria is committing itself to whatever comes from the UN. Everyone knows that Syria does what it says it will do.

Question: Is this a timetable that you will adhere to - is this something Syria can deliver?

Answer: This is for technical people. But I can assure you that on a political level the Syrian decision (to get rid of chemical weapons) will be honoured and Syria will commit to it. This is a final decision. The best thing about this deal is that we are avoiding a war that could have threatened the whole Middle East.

Question: So you are saying that the world can trust Syria to do what it says it will do?

Answer: For forty years, Syria has always been trusted once it has committed itself.

Question: America doesn't trust you, John Kerry doesn't trust you - he says, "There can be no games". He thinks you might be playing games.

Answer: Syria also doesn't want to see games. These are serious issues. Millions of people are involved. Building trust needs two partners.

Question: If you don't comply with the deal, America says the threat of force against you remains an option. Do you still feel under threat from American missiles?

Answer: Their threat is against the whole region. Syria hasn't been guilty of any aggression against the United States. Their words carry a smell of aggression.

Question: Do you resent that America is forcing you to give up your chemical weapons while giving help and weapons to the rebels?

Answer: Resentment is not a nice word. We may feel angry that America is helping the armed groups and the terrorists, giving direct service to al-Nusra. Terrorists who are linked to al-Qaeda.

Omran al-Zoubi said Syria 'is a country that respects and honours what it says'. Credit: ITV News

Question: Under the terms of the deal you are required to provide full and unfettered access for inspectors to all sites in Syria. Can you guarantee full access for inspectors?

Answer: Absolutely. Syria is responsible for its commitments. But pressure should also be put on the armed groups in this regard.

Question: But in the parts of Syria you control you can guarantee these inspectors full access?

Answer: Absolutely. Syria is a country that respects and honours what it says. Look, we are already documenting our papers and we have started to do our job. We don't waste time.

Question: You are saying Syria has already started to comply with this deal?

Answer: Of course. We have already started getting papers together and complying with the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Question: What do you get from this deal? Your chemical weapons are being taken away. You regarded them as a deterrent. What have the Russians promised you in return - for example, will you get the S300 missile system?

Answer: What we get is our accomplishment in avoiding a war. We have helped the whole region avoid a war.