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McCain: Military threat created possibility of Syria giving up chem weapons

It should be clear to members of Congress that only the threat of military action against the Assad regime's chemical weapons capabilities is what could create a possibility for Assad to give up control of those weapons. For this reason, Congress should proceed with its plans to consider and vote on the authorization for use of force that is now before the Senate, and today's development should make Members of Congress more willing to vote yes. This will give the President additional leverage to press Russia and Syria to make good on their proposal to take the weapons of mass destruction out of Assad's hands.

At the same time, all of us need to be realistic about this situation. We should not trust, and we must verify. The only credible way for the Obama administration to test this proposal is to immediately introduce a U.N. Security Council Resolution that spells out in clear, detailed terms exactly what the international community should expect of the Assad regime if it is serious about abandoning its weapons of mass destruction – weapons that it does not even admit to possessing at this point. Such a resolution must include specific requirements for immediate and intrusive inspections, unfettered international access to every site and suspected site in Syria possessing any weapons of mass destruction, guarantees for secure freedom of movement for all international inspectors, immediate steps by Assad to begin transferring his weapons of mass destruction to international custody, and clear consequences and triggers for action if obligations are not met by a time certain, among other commitments. Most importantly, this resolution must be presented as a take-it-or-leave-it offer and agreed to within a week at the Security Council, or else we run the risk that Russia and Syria will use this gambit as a way to play for time and continue the massacre of innocent men, women, and children in Syria.

John McCain is a Republican Senator from Arizona.

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