Kerry’s Shame: Assad Regime Remains Well-Armed with Chemical Weapons

Israeli officials claim Syria has up to three tons of banned weapons, despite 2013 agreement

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 20 Apr 2017 at 6:25 AM

Even though former Secretary of State John Kerry adamantly insisted in 2014 that Syria had destroyed or removed “100 percent” of its chemical weapons arsenal from the country, three Israeli defense officials say up to three tons of the banned weapons still remain.

When asked in several interviews on July 20, 2014, about a deal brokered by the U.S. and Russia with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2013, Kerry was adamant the agreement had successfully rid the war-torn nation of chemical weapons.

“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

“What [President Obama] faces, maybe, is a problem with a bunch of critics who want to jump to conclusions without looking at the facts,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out.”

One senior Israeli military official told the Associated Press that Assad not only retained chemical weapons but that Israeli officials estimate the Syrian president holds “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons. Two other defense officials confirmed the assessment to the AP, though all spoke under anonymity, due to Israel’s strict military disclosure regulations.

Assad has denied any responsibility for a chemical attack that killed more than 90 Syrian civilians on April 4 — a claim that has been rejected by U.S. national security officials and most of the international community at large.

When discussing criticism of Obama’s inaction in Syria on Oct. 31, 2014, Kerry told PBS contributor Al Hunt that because of Obama’s actions, “we got 100 percent of the weapons out and [ISIS] does not have access to those extraordinary weapons.”

“So I think people need to sort of step back and really measure outcomes,” Kerry added.

After the horrific April 4 attack, the head of the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement the results “from four OPCW-designated laboratories indicate exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance.” He added that “the analytical results already obtained are incontrovertible.”

The OPCW's final full report from an extensive investigation is expected within the next couple of weeks. The AP noted that both British and Turkish tests also reached similar results.

Even in the months following Assad's agreement with the Obama administration in 2013, concerns festered over whether he had disclosed his entire arsenal of chemical weapons.

Paul Wolfowitz, in his May 2014 article for The Wall Street Journal, noted, "The possibility that Syria is using chlorine gas is not the most disturbing factor. The experience with Libya demonstrates that there is no reason to be confident that Syria has even declared its entire stockpile of its more lethal weapons, such as sarin."

Wolfowitz added that "it seems likely that more remains than just what was declared by Syria last year."

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