U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry rejected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s suggestion that it was “standard process” to submit data on the regime’s chemical weapons arsenal after 30 days.
“We believe there is nothing standard about this process at this moment,” said Kerry at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. “Because of the way the regime has behaved; because of not only the existence of these weapons, but that they have been used.”
He added, “The words of the Syrian regime, in our judgement, are simply not enough.”
Kerry was firm about the intended outcome of negotiations with the Russian delegation. “This is not a game,” he said. “It has to be real, it has to be comprehensive, it has to be verifiable, it has to be credible and it has to be timely. And finally there ought to be consequences if it doesn’t take place.”
Kerry also noted that it was the “credible threat of force” along with the “intervention of President Putin and Russia” that made the regime acknowledge its arsenal of chemical weapons and its intention to relinquish it.
He made clear that “force might be necessary” should diplomacy fail to deter Assad’s willingness to use chemical weapons in the country’s civil war.
Kerry couldn’t resist a little joke when he couldn’t understand the translation of Lavrov’s response at the end of the conference. “You want me to take your word for it?” Kerry said with a laugh. “It’s a little too early for that.”