Threat of force against Syria remains 'real possibility' — Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry grimaces during a press conference in Geneva on September 14, 2013 after holding talks with his Russian counterpart on Syria's chemical weapons. Washington and Moscow have agreed a deal to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons, Kerry said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kerry said Sunday that the US is still prepared to use force against Syria if diplomacy fails. (AFP)
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American military action against Syria remains a very “real” possibility, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday, one day after a deal with Russia was agreed to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stash.
“The threat of force remains, the threat is real,” said Kerry at a news conference in Jerusalem, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs.”
With recent speculation about U.S. hesitation, Washington has moved to emphasize that action has not been dismissed.
“Make no mistake, we have taken no options off the table,” warned Kerry.
“The fact of weapons of mass destruction having being used against the people of their own state - these are crimes against humanity and they cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Under terms of the breakthrough deal, struck in Geneva on Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has a week to hand over information regarding the quantity and location of all the chemical weapons in its possession.
The stockpile would then be turned over to international supervision and destroyed by mid-2014 in a deal which has won backing from China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
The accord was hailed as heading off a possible U.S.-led strike and unspecified sanctions.
Kerry described the Geneva understandings as a “framework, not a final agreement,” but one which had “the full ability to be able to strip all the chemical weapons from Syria.”
But he admitted that its full implementation was crucial.
“This will only be as effective as its implementation will be.”
“Just removing the chemical weapons doesn’t do the job, we understand that... but it is one step forward, and it eliminates that weapon from the arsenal of a man who has proven willing to do anything to his people to hold on to power.”
“The world needs to ensure that radical regimes don't have weapons of mass destruction because, as we've learned once again in Syria, if rogue regimes have weapons of mass destruction they will use them,” he said.