US still insists on Syria military option

US still insists on Syria military option
Sat Sep 21, 2013 15:30:55

A White House official has reiterated that the US does not ruled out military strikes against Syria if Damascus does not abide by a US-Russian plan to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal for destruction.

“We are not forsaking the option of the United States and our allies taking military action,” said White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Friday, ahead of UN Security Council talks on enforcing the disarmament program.

Washington and Moscow are expected to clash in negotiations at next week’s UN General Assembly over the terms of a Security Council resolution that would enforce Syria’s compliance with a US-Russia deal hammered out in Geneva last week, RT reported on Saturday.

The administration of US President Barack Obama will continue to push for a resolution that includes the option of military action if Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government fails to adhere to the US-Russian plan to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control for eventual destruction, Rhodes is cited as saying in the report.

This is while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week that the threat of the use of force is not acceptable in a resolution, a position in line with Russia’s consistent rejection of outside military intervention in Syria’s civil war.

Obama, however, will argue in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that Assad and his government must face “consequences” should “they fail to cooperate with the international community” in the effort to dispose of Syria’s chemical arsenal, Rhodes said.

Rhodes’ comments followed the announcement earlier Friday by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which monitors the global ban on these arms, that Syria had provided it with details of its chemical weapons program.

The Hague-based group, which is tasked with overseeing the US-Russian framework agreement, said in a statement that it had “received an initial disclosure from the Syrian Government of its chemical weapons program, which is now being examined by the Technical Secretariat.”

Under the US-Russian plan, Assad’s government has until Saturday to submit to the OPCW a “comprehensive listing” of Syria’s chemical weapons program, including types and quantities of chemical weapons agents, types of munitions, and “location and form of storage, production, and research and development facilities.”

According to the report, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Syria by telephone Friday morning in what America’s top diplomat called “a fairly long conversation.”

“We talked about the cooperation which we both agreed to continue to provide, moving not only towards the adoption of the OPCW rules and regulations, but also a resolution that is firm and strong within the United Nations. We will continue to work on that,” Kerry said before a bilateral meeting in Washington with Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans.

The Obama administration has accused Assad’s government of responsibility for an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, meanwhile, repeated Keremlin’s position that the attack was likely carried out by rebels seeking to frame Assad as they battle to remove him from power.

Moscow has further questioned the findings of a report by UN inspectors released this week about the Aug. 21 attack and has called for a follow-up inspection. US officials say the report clearly demonstrates the Assad regime’s culpability.


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