Obama Presses for U.N. Resolution for Syria to Turn Over Chemical Weapons

President Barack Obama, Brady Press Room Briefing
National Journal
Stacy Kaper and Elahe Izadi
Stacy Kaper Elahe Izadi
Sept. 10, 2013, 9:01 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama is now press­ing for a United Na­tions res­ol­u­tion em­bra­cing the Rus­si­an pro­pos­al for Syr­ia to dis­arm and turn over its chem­ic­al weapons to the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity, says Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry.

Kerry, testi­fy­ing be­fore the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on Tues­day, said the ad­min­is­tra­tion would prefer to see a peace­ful res­ol­u­tion to the crisis. But he also said there is un­cer­tainty about wheth­er that can be achieved.

As a res­ult, Kerry em­phas­ized the White House has not de­cided to with­draw its re­quest for con­gres­sion­al au­thor­iz­a­tion for a pos­sible mil­it­ary strike against Syr­ia.

Kerry ex­plained, “What has brought us to this dis­cus­sion with the U.N. now is the po­ten­tial use of force, and we don’t want to take it off the table. It would be dan­ger­ous to do that. We could be sucked in­to something that may not have any ca­pa­city to be ef­fect­ive.”

But Kerry con­firmed that the pres­id­ent has now com­menced ef­forts to get U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil ac­tion on the in­ter­na­tion­al dis­arm­a­ment plan. He said Obama talked Tues­day morn­ing with French Pres­id­ent Fran­cois Hol­lande and Brit­ish Prime Min­is­ter Dav­id Camer­on, and Kerry said he him­self had an earli­er con­ver­sa­tion with French For­eign Min­is­ter Laurent Fabi­us. “And we talked about where we are with re­spect to the Rus­si­an pro­pos­al, and they agreed to work closely to­geth­er in con­sulta­tion with Rus­sia and China to ex­plore the vi­ab­il­ity of the Rus­si­an pro­pos­al and to put all of the Syr­i­ans’ chem­ic­al weapons un­der the con­trol of a veri­fi­able “¦. [in­ter­na­tion­al] mech­an­ism,” said Kerry.

“And ef­forts are go­ing to be­gin today on that,” Kerry said.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Rep. Rob An­drews, D-N.J., re­spon­ded dur­ing the hear­ing to the news of talks be­gin­ning over such a po­ten­tial Se­cur­ity Coun­cil res­ol­u­tion that, “I think there is broad sup­port to try to make that hap­pen.” But he said he also agreed with Kerry’s as­sess­ment that without a threat of a po­ten­tial U.S. strike ““ “that will not hap­pen.”

Out­side of the hear­ing, sev­er­al sen­at­ors con­firmed their know­ledge of such talks in­volving U.N. ac­tion. While they de­clined to give more spe­cif­ics, Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., offered that the Sen­ate is try­ing to de­vise its Syr­ia res­ol­u­tion in such a way as to be help­ful to a pro­cess of prompt­ing Syr­ia to get rid of its chem­ic­al weapons without mil­it­ary ac­tion.

“There are signs of hope, but it’s pre­ma­ture to latch onto those, with the Rus­si­ans and the Syr­i­ans,” Schu­mer said. “We’re try­ing to have our res­ol­u­tion be help­ful to that oc­cur­ring, so that Syr­ia can rid it­self of chem­ic­al weapons without us en­ga­ging in mil­it­ary ac­tion. But it’s pre­ma­ture to say any­thing could be done, we’re just ex­plor­ing… .”

On tim­ing: ” We’re co­ordin­at­ing with the White House so that every­one’s in sync.”

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