In an interview with Fox News, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he is "committed to the full requirements" of the international agreement to destroy his stockpile of chemical weapons.
Assad said it would take about a year to get rid of the weapons and would be a "very expensive" process. He estimated it would cost $1 billion and be "detrimental to the environment." He was not specific about where the chemicals could be disposed.
The Syrian president denied using his chemical arsenal in the August attack that killed thousands of civilians. Assad said that he was waiting to "discuss the evidence" of the U.N. report that showed "there's clear and convincing evidence that the nerve gas sarin has been used." He told Fox that sarin gas could be "made in the kitchen," alluding that the rebels could have manufactured the toxic nerve gas.
According to an interview transcript provided by the Syrian Arab News Agency, Assad said:
You cannot use the Sarin beside your troops, this is first. Second, you don't use WMD while you are advancing, you've not been defeated, and you're not retreating. The whole situation was in favour of the army. Third, we didn't use it when we had bigger problems last year. When they talk about any troops or any unit in the Syrian army that used this kind of weapon, this is false for one reason because chemical weapons can only be used by specialized units.
He also said that "80 to 90% of the rebels or terrorists on the ground are al-Qaeda and their offshoots."
When asked if President Obama should trust him to follow through with the chemical weapons agreement, Assad replied, "I don't think that President Obama should trust me; first, the Syrian people should trust me, not President Obama."
Assad also said he had "never" spoken to Obama. His message for Obama was, "Listen to your people; follow the common sense of your people. That's enough."
Part 1 of the interview:
Part 2 of the interview:
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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