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Kerry: Syria Vote Proves UN Security Council Can Still Do 'Big Things'

Secretary of State John Kerry praised the United Nations Security Council for its unanimous vote approving a resolution that will require Syria to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile.

"Just two weeks ago, this outcome would have been utterly unimaginable," said Kerry. "When we put aside politics for the common good, we are still capable of doing big things."

He thanked his Russian and European counterparts for their diplomacy since the Aug. 21 attack in Syria to get this resolution passed.

"Tonight, with a strong and forcible, precedent-setting resolution requiring Syria to give up it's criminal weapons, the U.N. Security Council has demonstrated that diplomacy can be so powerful it can peacefully diffuse the worst weapons of war," said Kerry.

The measure holds Syria accountable for living up to it's pledge to give up its chemical weapons with a legally binding resolution. Kerry suggested that the diplomacy may have happened because of President Obama's threat of force, but the end result so far appears to be both positive and peaceful.

"Our original objective was to degrade and deter Syria's chemical weapons capability. And the option of military force President Obama has kept on the table could have achieved that," said Kerry. "But tonight's resolution, in fact, accomplishes even more. Through peaceful means, it will, for the first time, seek to eliminate an entire nation's chemical weapons capability and, in this case, specifically Syria's.

Kerry laid out specifics within the resolution that Syria will be required to comply with.

For example, on-site inspections are to begin in November and Syria's chemical weapons are to be destroyed by this time next year.

Syria cannot reject or select any inspectors and must give inspectors unfettered access to all sites.

If Syria does not comply, the council can impose measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which could include authorizing the use of force.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also praised the "historic" vote, saying that the international community has delivered on its responsibilities.

He announced that all parties, along with Syria special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, have agreed to the next Geneva political conference with the Syrian government and opposition taking place in mid-November.

But for all the praise. Ban reminded the Security Council that tens of thousands of Syrians have been killed and continue to be killed by conventional weapons, a problem that the international community will need to address.

"As we mark this important step, we must never forget that the catalog of horrors in Syria continues with bombs and tanks, grenades and guns," Ban said, adding that the resolution cannot be seen as a "license to kill" with conventional weapons.

"A red light for one form of weapons does not mean a green light for others," he said.

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