Kerry: U.S. will not wait for long on Syria’s chemical arms plan

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (R) arrive to testify at the House Armed Services Committee in Washington Sept. 10, 2013. (Reuters)

The United States will not wait for long to see the implementation of a Russian proposal for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpiles, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.

Kerry told a Congressional hearing that putting Syria’s stockpile under international supervisions could be the “ideal way” to remove the arms, but warned it would be “exceedingly difficult.”

President Barack Obama has reportedly agreed to discuss the plan in the United Nations.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who joined Kerry in the hearing, said the threat of U.S. military action against Syria must remain on the table if diplomatic efforts to secure control of its chemical weapons are to succeed.

“All of us are hopeful that this option could be a real solution to this crisis, yet we must be clear-eyed,” Hagel said. The “real, credible” threat of U.S. military action must continue, he insisted.

U.S. President Obama had asked Congress to vote for a resolution to use military force against the Syrian regime in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria in an Aug. 21 attack.

But the resolution has faced objection form many lawmakers who saw that the case for the military strike was not strong enough or that the use of chemical weapons in Syria was not a U.S. National Security concern.

U .S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he would vote against the resolution because “a vital national security risk is clearly not at play.”

He said there were “too many unanswered questions” about U.S. strategy in Syria, and the proposed strike may be a “mere demonstration,” while a Russian proposal to secure the weapons was worth exploring.

Meanwhile, John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said on Tuesday that the American people are not supportive of Obama’s position on Syria and he must make a stronger case.

“The American people have not been supportive. They have not made the sale to the American people. That’s why I think tonight is so important,” Boehner told a news conference, referring to Obama’s planned speech to the U.S. nation on Tuesday night on Syria.

Boehner, a Republican, also said he was skeptical of a Russian plan to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under international control “because of the actors involved.”

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40
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