Kerry: U.S. forces ready if Syria stalls
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a clear statement to Russia in his opening talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. While Syria is moving ahead in dismantling their chemical weapons program, the U.S. will keep the option of force in Syria very much on the table.
Yesterday, Syria became a full member of the global anti-chemical weapons treaty in the hopes that the next two days of talks in Geneva will bring the chemical weapons issue to a close.
“President [Barack] Obama has made clear that should diplomacy fail force might be necessary to deter and degrade Assad’s capacity to deliver these weapons,” Kerry said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has requested the US set aside talks of military threats in the midst of the treaty process.
“We proceed from the fact that the solution of this problem will make unnecessary any strike on the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said. “I am convinced that our American colleagues, as President Obama stated, are firmly convinced that we should follow peaceful way of resolution of conflict in Syria.”
Kerry responded with clear warning and expectation.
“This is not a game and I said that to my friend Sergey when we talked about it initially. It has to be real. It has to be comprehensive. It has to be verifiable. It has to be credible. It has to be timely and implemented in a timely fashion, and finally there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.”
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. will continue to leave the option of force on the table despite Assad's demands that Syria will only enter a chemical weapons agreement if the U.S. removes the threat of force in Syria.
Syria’s efforts to dismantle its program would lower the number of countries stockpiling chemical weapons leaving Egypt and Israel as the only other Middle Eastern countries outside of International law on this issue.
In regards to Assad’s seat in power, rebels are still looking to receive support in ousting the leadership in Syria. Gen. Salim Idriss, the head of the main rebel Free Syrian Army, told U.S. National Public Radio that his troops are still ready for an attack in conjunction with U.S. strikes. “We were and are still waiting for these strikes,” he said.
Talks on the details of the agreement are expected to continue for the next two days in Geneva.
- Assad: Syria will surrender chemical agents if US strike threats end
- Assad, his brother and an army general control chemical weapons - Kerry
- Israel backs Russian chemical weapons plan for Syria
- Kerry's chemical weapons 'gaffe' could lead to breakthrough in Syrian crisis
- US Kerry's "premature" comments on Syria weapons elicits statement from Moscow