Obama, Kerry Caught With Pants Down On Chemical Weapons In Syria

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Syrian President Bashar Assad likely held on to a few of his chemical weapons, despite assurances by the U.S. officials that he gave them all up to Russia.

A new confidential report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, obtained by Foreign Policy, “indicate potentially undeclared chemical weapons-related activities.” The report finds the regime’s explanations for the evidence against it are “not scientifically or technically plausible.”

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime … that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” President Barack Obama told reporters in August, 2012. A year later definitive reports confirmed widespread chemical weapons use by the Assad regime against civilians, including sarin gas.

Despite pressure from his advisers, the international community, NATO, and almost every U.S. ally, Obama demurred on his “red line.” Obama instead opted for a Russian-brokered deal with the Assad regime, in which Assad would give up his chemical weapons arsenal.

“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told NBCNews in 2014. Obama told the Atlantic in April he was “very proud” of his deal with Assad, and elaborated, “I believe ultimately it was the right decision to make.”

[dcquiz] The report’s revelations come weeks before another United Nations report is expected to confirm chlorine gas use by the Syrian regime. The U.S. will probably seek additional U.N. Security Council resolutions against Syria when the report is released, but they have little chance of success. Russia, an active military ally of the Assad regime, is likely to censor any serious U.N. Security Council Resolution, or sanctions against the Assad regime.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, himself an architect of the 2013 chemical weapons deal, told Foreign Policy, “The administration has worked itself into a position that’s just untenable. They look foolish.”

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