Kerry Discusses Diplomatic Push to Remove Syria’s Chemical Weapons

Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers Tuesday that the United States has challenged Syria to turn over its stockpile of chemical weapons to the international community for destruction to avert a US military strike. Syrian leader Bashar al Assad’s “chief benefactor, the Russians, have responded by saying that they would come up with a proposal to do exactly that,” Kerry told the House Armed Services Committee on Sept. 10. Kerry said over the course of “several conversations,” he has “made it clear” that this cannot be a delay tactic. “This cannot be a process of avoidance,” said Kerry. “It has to be real, has to be measurable, tangible.” He said the United States is willing to wait—but not too long—for that proposal to advance before moving forward with any military action in response to the Syrian military’s deadly Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Moallem on Monday said “Syria welcomes the Russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the Syrian people, the security of our country, and because it believes in the wisdom of the Russian leadership that seeks to avert American aggression against our people,” reported CBS News. (Kerry opening statement)