This is a rapidly developing situation but it looks like there is some momentum toward an international response to chemical weapons use that does not involve bombing Syria.
Here’s what’s going on:
1) This morning, John Kerry gave what amounted to an ultimatum:
Asked if there were steps the Syrian president could take to avert an American-led attack, Mr. Kerry said, “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting.”
2) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov backed this idea at a news conference hours later
Russia said on Monday it would urge Syria to put its chemical weapons arsenal under international control if this would avert military strikes.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who called a news conference to announce the proposal, said he had already conveyed the idea to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem at talks in Moscow and that Russiaexpected “a quick and, I hope, a positive answer.”
3) A few hours later, Bank Ki Moon offered his endorsement to this idea at a news conference. He said that when he receives the final report on chemical weapons use from the UN inspection team on the ground he would consider “urging the Security Council to demand the transfer of chemical stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safeguarded and destroyed.” In response to a reporter’s question, Ban Ki Moon added that the UN could move swiftly to safeguard the chemical stocks if asked.
4) According to news breaking on Twitter, Syria is receptive to Russia’s proposal :
Of course, chemical weapons have already been used and those who ordered the attack and carried it out need to be punished. But in the near term, these count as very positive developments.