(WASHINGTON) — Ambassador Susan Rice gave a fiery response Thursday to Russia and China’s veto of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria, calling the action “pitiful and deeply regretful.”
Rice said the resolution did not automatically impose sanctions, did not invoke Chapter 7 and did not set the stage for any type of military intervention. Still, said that the UNSC could impose non-military sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime if he doesn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within a 10-day period.
Assad was pictured on Syria state television Thursday after he reportedly attended a swearing-in ceremony for the country’s new defense minister. It was the first time Assad has been seen since an attack killed three of his top aides.
Rice warned that “history will judge those that three times have blocked council action harshly.”
Rice said that Russia and China have made it impossible for the Security Council to use “even the basic tools at its disposal” to make the UN monitoring mission and Kofi Annan’s political transition plan succeed. Annan has repeatedly appealed to the Council to agree on measures that would ensure that there will be real consequences on the parties for non-compliance, including using Chapter 7.
Rice said from the U.S. perspective, Thursday’s resolution was the last best chance for the UN Monitoring mission and civilians on the ground to succeed.
“It is a rapidly deteriorating conflict that is costing hundreds of lives each day, and threatens to engulf the region in a wider war,” Rice said. “That is the consequence of the third veto by our colleagues on the council today.”
Rice warned that the consequence of the veto is that the situation will continue to deteriorate and the best efforts of Kofi Annan and the council to work the political process will not succeeded, forcing the international community to work outside of the UN body.
Rice reiterated that any use or transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile would result in those responsible being held accountable.
“I think it’s vitally important that there be no ambiguity about the severity of that step,” she said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Oren Liebermann, CNN
Roshni Majumdar, CNN
Stephanie Halasz, Jason Hanna and Livia Borghese, CNN
Georgia McCafferty and Junko Ogura, CNN