News / Middle East

Obama Welcomes Deal on Syria Chemical Weapons

President Barack Obama addresses the nation in a live televised speech from the East Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2013.
President Barack Obama addresses the nation in a live televised speech from the East Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2013.
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama has welcomed the framework of a deal, reached by the United States and Russia, to rid Syria of chemical weapons.  The president's reaction came in a written statement Saturday.

In the statement, Obama said he welcomed the progress made between the U.S. and Russia in negotiations in Geneva that produced a framework agreement Saturday. He called it “an important, concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.”

Key points of US-Russian proposal for eliminating Syria's chemical weapons

  • A full declaration from Syria of chemical weapons storage and production sites in one week
  • Initial on-site inspections of sites by November
  • Destruction of chemical mixing, production and filling equipment by November
  • Elimination or removal of chemical weapons material and equipment by mid-2014
  • Syrian violations could prompt U.N. Security Council action
The president said much more work remained to be done, however.  He said the U.S. would “continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences” if the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not comply with the deal.

However, Russia would likely veto any U.N. military action. 

Obama said that if diplomacy failed, military action was still possible.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, recorded Friday before the deal was reached, the president said, in that case, force would still be an option.

“And since this plan emerged only with a credible threat of U.S. military action, we will maintain our military posture in the region, to keep the pressure on the Assad regime.  And if diplomacy fails, the United States and the international community must remain prepared to act,” he said.

In that address, Obama also said it was important that diplomatic efforts succeed, to make it clear that the world will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.

“We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children.  But if there is any chance of achieving that goal without resorting to force, then I believe we have a responsibility to pursue that path,” he said.

Watch President Obama's weekly address:

President Obama was briefed on the agreement Saturday by his national security adviser, Susan Rice and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.

The president also called Secretary of State John Kerry to be briefed on the talks, and to congratulate Kerry for reaching the agreement with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The deal could avert U.S. military strikes in retaliation for last month’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is believed to have killed more than 1,400 people.

The prospect of U.S. airstrikes on Syria is deeply unpopular with the American people, and any authorization to launch an attack was far from certain to be approved in Congress.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs