POLITICS: PennAve

White House: Syria must 'intensify' efforts to disarm chemical weapons

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Politics,White House,Syria,PennAve,Chemical Weapons,Meghashyam Mali,Jay Carney,Foreign Policy

The White House on Thursday kept up pressure on Syria to meet the terms of an international agreement to disable its chemical arsenal amid reports Damascus is delaying compliance.

“The international community is poised and ready to destroy Syria's chemical weapons as soon as the chemical weapons have reached the Syrian port of Latakia,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “It is the Assad regime's responsibility to transport those chemicals safely to facilitate their removal. We expect them to meet their obligation to do so.”

Carney’s comments came after officials with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that Syria had only handed over 5 percent of its chemical arsenal and was likely to miss a key deadline next week for handing over all of those weapons for destruction, according to reports. Other reports have suggested that some of Assad’s weapons may have been secreted out of the country.

“We join the OPCW in calling on the Assad regime to intensify its efforts to ensure that its international obligations and commitments are met so that these materials may be removed from Syria as quickly and safely as possible,” Carney added.

He said that although the guidelines for destroying the chemical weapons were “ambitious” that “more work needs to be done.”

Syrian leader Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians in his country's deadly three-year civil war crossed a “red line” for President Obama. Obama vowed to punish Syria with military force, but was forced to shelve those plans amid opposition on Capitol Hill.

The president instead seized on a deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin that would see Assad hand over his chemical weapons to international inspectors to be destroyed. But critics say that Putin, a longtime backer of Assad, had helped the Syrian strongman escape and that ensuring Damascus complied could be impossible.

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