Kerry gives Syria one week to relinquish chemical weapons



Published time: September 09, 2013 16:14

US secretary of State John Kerry (AFP Photo / Alastair Grant / Pool)

Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has one week to give up his arsenal of chemical weapons or else become the target of a US military strike.

Answering to a reporter during a press conference in London early
Monday, Mr. Kerry offered an ultimatum which would require the
Syrian leader to turn over whatever remains of a reported
chemical weapons stockpile in order to avoid an attack from the
United States.

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, but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be
done
,” Kerry said at the press conference.

According to Reuters, the US State Department said Kerry was
making a rhetorical argument. As lawmakers in Washington ready to
weigh in on whether or not to authorize the use of military force
against Assad, however, an American-led attack on Assad’s
government remains a very real possibility.

The White House and high-ranking members of Congress alike have
repeatedly urged American politicians to sign-off on a strike
meant to reprimand Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons
outside of Damascus on August 21. US officials say more than
1,400 Syrians were gassed to death during that assault, though
Pres. Assad remains adamant that he was not responsible.

President Barack Obama and Mr. Kerry said they want a limited
military strike against Assad in order to demonstrate that the US
will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against civilians.
The secretary of state is expected to brief members of Congress
on Monday after returning from the UK, and Pres. Obama will
address the nation in a televised statement the following
evening.

Before leaving London, Sec. Kerry said, “We will be able to
hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on
the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very
limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his
capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming
responsibility for Syria’s civil war
.”

Amid concerns that intervening in that internal conflict will
launch the US into another war, Kerry added that the White House
wants nothing more than an “unbelievably small, limited kind
of effort
.” Outside of Washington, though, the use of
military force remains largely unwanted. According to the results
of a CNN poll conducted over the weekend, 59 percent of Americans
said they are against a military strike on Syria, and nearly
three-fours of those surveyed said airstrikes would not achieve
“significant goals” for the US.

Meanwhile, proponents of intervention say they are more certain
than ever that Assad approved last month’s assault. Kerry claimed
that the entire US intelligence community now believes Assad
ordered the chemical weapons attack, and said only three people —
Assad, one of his brothers and a senior general — are
responsible.

Assad told CBS News on Sunday that America should “expect
every action
” if a strike is ordered in Washington. The next
day, Kerry said of the Syrian president, “This is a man
without credibility
.”

Kerry’s remarks in London were made during a joint appearance
with William Hague, the British foreign secretary. “Our
government supports the objective of ensuring that there can be
no impunity for the first use of chemical warfare in the 21st
century
,” Mr. Hague said during the presser “As an
international community we must deter further attacks and hold
those responsible for them accountable
.”

Copyright: RT