Feb 2, 2014
White House to ‘Make Sure’ Syria Gives Up Chemical Arms
By Adam Entous
The White House said Sunday it would “make sure” the Syrian regime complies with an accord to give up its chemical arsenal, insisting the deal can still be salvaged despite implementation delays and missed deadlines.
“It’s not falling apart, but we would like to see it proceed much more quickly than it is,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Mr. McDonough said the U.S. isn’t dependent on Russia to bring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime into compliance. Moscow is the regime’s main arms supplier and key international backer.
“We’re going to make sure that the Syrians live up to their obligations. They have an obligation to the international community to do exactly what they said they’d do,” Mr. McDonough said.
Mr. McDonough stopped short of saying what the U.S. would do if the Assad regime doesn’t change course. “I’m not going to get into any ‘or whats’ here,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry has raised U.S. concerns about the Assad regime’s conduct with international counterparts during a trip to Europe this weekend. “We’ll keep pushing on that,” Mr. McDonough said.
Just 4% of Syria’s 530 metric tons of most-dangerous chemicals have been removed so far, despite a Dec. 31, 2013, deadline for removing all of them. U.S. criticism reflects growing concern in Washington that Mr. Assad isn’t taking his obligations seriously and is about to miss a second deadline for the removal of the deadly chemicals.
Damascus’s foot-dragging could become an embarrassment for President Barack Obama, who backed off plans to bomb Syria over his alleged use of chemical weapons after Mr. Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons in a deal brokered with Moscow.