Kerry warns Assad: Threat of force remains

Secretary of State emphasizes that failure to fulfill chemical weapons handover deal has military consequences

Topics: Syria, John Kerry, Secretary of State, bashar assad, Chemical weapons, Middle East, Israel, ,

JERUSALEM (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is sending a strong warning to Syria, saying that `the threat of force is real’ if it does not carry out a plan to hand over its chemical weapons.

Kerry issued the warning during a stop in Jerusalem on Sunday, where he discussed the new U.S.-Russian plan to rid Syria of its chemical weapons by the middle of next year.

Kerry stressed that it would be crucial for Syria to honor the agreement. Otherwise, the U.S. threat to use military force against Syria remains in effect.

Kerry said: “We cannot have hollow words.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Israeli leaders expressed cautious hope Sunday about a U.S.-Russia agreement that would require Syria to identify and eliminate its chemical weapons by mid-2014, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the region to discuss the deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel hoped the plan would lead to the “complete destruction” of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and would push the world to stop Iran, Syria’s close ally, from developing nuclear weapons. Israel believes that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons and has identified the international community’s response to the Syrian crisis as a “test case” for Iran. Iran denies the charge.

“This test of results also applies to the international community’s diplomatic efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear armament,” Netanyahu said. “Words will not decide, only actions and results. In any instance, Israel must be ready to defend itself, by itself, against any threat, and this ability and readiness is more important today than ever.”

U.S. and Russian officials reached an ambitious agreement over the weekend calling for an inventory of Syria’s chemical weapons program within one week. International inspectors are to be on the ground by November to assess Syrian weapons sites, and all components of the chemical weapons program are to be removed from the country or destroyed by mid-2014. The Syrian government has yet to comment publicly on the agreement.

Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed the deal, saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad “has no choice but to accept the commitment” and that the possibility of U.S. military action if the plan fails should “teach a lesson” to Iran.



Kerry was making a brief stopover in Jerusalem Sunday to brief Netanyahu on the plan, as well as to discuss U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ahead of Kerry’s arrival, some Israeli politicians voiced skepticism, saying Assad cannot be trusted.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the plan was more “substantive” than earlier proposals, but warned the agreement’s deadline was not speedy enough and Assad could try to hide weapons.

“We know Assad. All kinds of things could happen,” he said, adding that an agreement on chemical weapons should not absolve Assad of punishment for the acts he has committed against the Syrian people.

Avigdor Lieberman, chair of parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, told Army Radio that Israel would compare its own intelligence assessments of Syria’s weapons to the inventory Syria submits, which the plan requires him to do in a week.

“After we see the list of what Assad has handed over in a week, we can know if his intentions are serious of if it is just deception,” Lieberman said.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...