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Security Council: Eliminate Syria's chemical weapons

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United Nations (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council, capping a dramatic month of diplomacy, voted unanimously late Friday to require Syria to eliminate its arsenal of chemical weapons.

"Today's resolution will ensure the elimination of the Syria chemical weapons program happens as soon as possible and with the utmost transparency," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

A U.N. team will be dispatched to Syria on Tuesday.

The resolution did not authorize the automatic use of force if Syria is said to be in violation, as was previously sought by the United States.

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Both the United States and Russia warned that if Syria failed to adhere to the terms of the resolution, it would face consequences.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the world community was imposing a binding obligation on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to get rid of its stockpile, which the United States said it used in an August attack in a Damascus suburb.

"This resolution makes clear that those responsible for this heinous act must be held accountable," said Kerry.

If the resolution succeeds, the world "will have eliminated one of the largest chemical weapon arsenals on Earth, eliminating it from one of the most volatile places on Earth," Kerry said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the council that his country, long an ally of the Syrian government, "will stand ready to take action" if the resolution needs enforcement.

By agreeing to dismantle its chemical weapons program and provide documentation of its arsenal, "Damascus has shown its readiness to cooperate," said Lavrov.

Russia earlier this month offered a proposal that U.S. President Barack Obama and others have embraced: eliminating the Syrian government's chemical weapons stockpile.

The 15-member Security Council met shortly after another international group voted to fast-track Syria's addition to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans such weapons.

Syria announced this month that it was willing to join the agreement.

The executive committee of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, meeting in the Netherlands, adopted its measure by consensus in about 10 minutes.

"We now have a legal mandate to start a verification mission in Syria," said group spokesman Michael Luhan.

Obama, speaking before the votes, said he was "very hopeful" about the developments, but warned much work remains to be done.

"I think, rightly, people have been concerned about whether Syria will follow through on the commitments that have been laid forth and I think there are legitimate concerns as to how technically we are going to be getting those chemical weapons out while there's still fighting going on the ground," Obama said..

Obama said the threat of U.S. military power pushed Syrian leaders to agree to destroy their chemical weapons and said the resolution "not only deters and prevents additional chemical use but actually goes beyond what could have been accomplished through any military action."

The OPCW plans to send an advance team of inspectors to Damascus on Monday, an official with the organization, who declined to be identified while discussing delicate operations, told CNN on Friday.

The team will establish a base for communications and begin preparations for inspections, the official said.

The official said that in order to meet international deadlines for destruction of Syria's chemical weapons, the group may opt for a "quick and dirty" program that would render the weapons unusable but wouldn't destroy them, the official said.

The United States and other Western nations blame the Syrian government for an August 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that U.S. officials estimate killed 1,400 people.

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Russia and Syria say they believe rebels used the weapons.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said his country is willing to transport and destroy Syrian chemical weapons, although only as part of an international coalition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in September took to The New York Times to argue against military intervention in Syria.

Striking Syria would have many negative ramifications, Putin argued in the piece, including the killing of innocent people, spreading violence around the Middle East, clouding diplomatic efforts to address Iran's nuclear crisis and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and "unleash(ing) a new wave of terrorism."

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