Assad could avert attack by giving up chemical arms, Kerry says
Secretary of state surmises it is unlikely Syrian leader will turn over all of weapons stock, asserts evidence regime behind gassing
LONDON — Syrian President Bashar Assad could resolve the crisis surrounding a chemical weapons attack simply by turning over “every single bit” of his weapons stock to the international community within a week, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday.
But Kerry, holding a news conference in London with British counterpart William Hague on Monday, said he thinks Assad “isn’t about to do that.”
“Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week, turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting, but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done,” he said.
Kerry was asked about comments that Assad made to CBS anchorman Charlie Rose in which the Syrian president said there was no conclusive evidence about who is to blame for the chemical weapons attack.
Asked about Assad’s denial, Kerry said, “I just gave you real evidence.”
“Evidence that as a former prosecutor in the United States I could take into a courtroom and get admitted,” the secretary added. Kerry said he had personally tried people who had been sent to prison for life for less than what Assad is accused of doing.
“So the evidence is powerful and the question for all of us is what are we going to do about it,” Kerry said. “Turn our backs? Have a moment of silence?”
“We know that his regime gave orders to prepare for a chemical attack. We know they deployed forces.”
Kerry added that Washington “knows where the rockets came from and where they landed … and it was no accident that they all came from regime -controlled territory and all landed” in opposition-held territory.
He added that the United States knows “where the rockets came from and where they landed … and it was no accident that they all came from regime -controlled territory and all landed” in opposition-held territory.
Meanwhile, Russian and Syrian foreign ministers said Monday they planned to push for the return of United Nations inspectors to Syria to continue their probe into the use of chemical weapons.
Lavrov said after Monday’s talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem that Moscow will continue to promote a peaceful settlement and may try to convene a gathering of all Syrian opposition figures who are interested in peaceful settlement. He said a U.S. attack on Syria would deal a fatal blow to peace efforts.