Obama Demands Russia to Hold Syria to Account on Chemicals

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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 12, 2014, 5:16 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama on Tues­day de­man­ded Rus­si­an ac­tion in push­ing Syr­ia to ful­fill its pledges on re­lin­quish­ing its chem­ic­al ar­sen­al, RIA Nov­osti re­ports.

Syr­ia must meet its com­mit­ments, and Rus­sia has a re­spons­ib­il­ity to en­sure that Syr­ia com­plies,” Obama told journ­al­ists in Wash­ing­ton.

Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment ad­mit­ted pos­sess­ing chem­ic­al weapons and agreed to give them up sev­er­al weeks after sar­in nerve agent al­legedly killed more than 1,400 people on the edge of Dam­as­cus. Rus­sia, a back­er of As­sad’s re­gime, has sup­por­ted the re­gime’s deni­als of re­spons­ib­il­ity for the chem­ic­al strike in rebel-oc­cu­pied ter­rit­ory.

Wash­ing­ton re­cently ac­cused the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment of drag­ging its feet in the dis­arm­a­ment ef­fort, which last week missed a dead­line for mov­ing most of the chem­ic­al-war­fare stocks onto for­eign ves­sels for re­mov­al and de­struc­tion. Dam­as­cus has blamed delays on the dan­ger­ous nature of ship­ping the ma­ter­i­als across ter­rit­ory rav­aged by nearly three years of civil war. Still, Syr­i­an and Rus­si­an of­fi­cials have sug­ges­ted an end-of-June dead­line re­mains with­in reach for the stock­pile’s full de­struc­tion.

A key in­ter­na­tion­al of­fi­cial on Tues­day said As­sad’s gov­ern­ment is demon­strat­ing “con­struct­ive co­oper­a­tion” in the dis­arm­a­ment ef­fort, and voiced con­fid­ence that the mid-year goal “will be met,” Agence France-Presse re­por­ted.

“What’s im­port­ant … is that there is an ac­cel­er­a­tion and in­tens­i­fic­a­tion of ef­forts as we pro­gress in time to­wards the dead­line,” said Sigrid Kaag, spe­cial co­ordin­at­or of the in­ter­na­tion­al dis­arm­a­ment op­er­a­tion over­seen by the United Na­tions and the Or­gan­iz­a­tion for the Pro­hib­i­tion of Chem­ic­al Weapons.

Mean­while, Obama said Wash­ing­ton has not ruled out the op­tion of at­tack­ing Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment tar­gets.

“Right now we don’t think that there is a mil­it­ary solu­tion per se to the prob­lem, but the situ­ation is flu­id and we are con­tinu­ing to ex­plore every pos­sible av­en­ue to solve this prob­lem,” he said.

The po­ten­tial for the United States to em­ploy armed force in Syr­ia be­came widely dis­cussed im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the Aug. 21 chem­ic­al strike in the Syr­i­an cap­it­al’s Ghouta sub­urbs.

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