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Senators Concerned About Assad Reportedly Transferring Chemical Weapons

4:42 PM, Jul 13, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham released the following statement on Syria:

“Today's extremely disturbing report in the Wall Street Journal that the Assad regime may be moving chemical weapons could have profound consequences for U.S. policy toward Syria. We have every reason to expect the worst of Assad and his forces, who are killing more people in Syria now than at any time in the conflict. First and foremost it is essential to determine whether this report is accurate, and if Assad is in fact moving chemical weapons, where and why they are being moved. We urge the Administration to brief Congress on what is known as soon as possible.

“If Assad is transferring chemical weapons from secure sites to the battlefield, it significantly raises the risks that they will be used or that control over these weapons could be compromised. These are unacceptable risks for the United States and the entire international community, and they would threaten our vital national security interests.

“If accurate, this would mean that the Assad regime cannot be trusted to exercise responsible stewardship over its weapons of mass destruction, and that allowing them to remain in Assad's hands presents a clear threat, not only to civilians in Syria but to international peace and security. If that is the case, the Administration should convene an urgent session of the UN Security Council to consider a Chapter 7 resolution demanding that Assad relinquish his weapons of mass destruction to responsible international control – and authorizing the use of all necessary means to enforce this demand. If Russia and China stand in the way, the United States must rally our friends and allies to act.

“Ultimately, this latest report adds new urgency to the need to end the rule of Assad and his top lieutenants. This report on chemical weapons, combined with another report on a mass slaughter in Tremseh, paints a picture of Syria continuing to spiral out of control. 

“The longer this conflict grinds on, the worse it gets for the people of Syria and increasingly for the entire international community. According to some estimates, as many as 17,000 lives have been lost. Assad has clearly shown that he will stop at nothing to crush the Syrian opposition. Does anyone doubt this regime has the capacity to turn some of the world’s worst weapons on its own people? After every mass atrocity that is committed in the world, good people pledge ‘never again’ – that next time we will be ready, and we will have the resolve to act to prevent mass atrocities that we see gathering. Now is that time in Syria, and we urge the Administration to respond accordingly.”

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