(PARIS) — In a presser with his French and British counterparts in Paris early Monday, Secretary Kerry laid down a firm demand for Assad to comply with the U.S.-Russian deal, warning that there will be consequences if he doesn’t.
Kerry said that a UN Security Council resolution codifying the deal, which is still being negotiated in New York right now, must be strong, binding, and enforceable.
He said that if it is not, then Assad “will play games.” He said because of that, the world needs to demand that inspectors get “unfettered, unrestricted access to sites.”
He also sought to reassure the Syrian opposition, which has reportedly been disillusioned with the deal and told Assad he shouldn’t think the deal affords him any renewed legitimacy, calling again for a political solution and an international peace conference.
Kerry said that the deal will have no meaning unless it is fully embraced by Assad and verified.
“We’re talking about verify and verify. It’s not about trust,” he said.
Kerry said they won’t tolerate “anything less than full compliance.”
He said that if Assad fails to do so, the world, including Russia, agrees there must be “consequences.”
“President Obama has warned that should diplomacy fail, the military option is still on the table.”
Kerry also acknowledged that Assad still has artillery and airpower that he is using “indiscriminatingly” but he said that at least the chemical weapons won’t be part of the arsenal and “that will, therefore, make the opposition safer.”
He said this deal should not suggest to Assad that he now has any renewed “legitimacy.”
“Assad has lost all legitimacy to be possible to govern his country and we remain committed to the opposition,” Kerry said, calling again for a transition government.
Kerry said the Americans and Russians agreed that Assad’s chemical weapon stocks total around 1,000 to 1,200/1,300 metric tons.
He rejected a comparison to the search for WMDs in Iraq, saying they are looking for something that has been used, not something we think he has. He said they think this can happen quickly because they know where they are, Assad has kept them in safe areas, and the opposition has an interest in providing security.
“This deprives Assad of a weapon,” an agitated Kerry said at one point in response to a question. “They were using the airplanes anyway, they were using the artillery anyway, and yes that remains a problem.”
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