Assad: Turning Over Chem Weapons Could Take A Year

Assad: Turning Over Chem Weapons Could Take A Year

FOX NEWS: Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an exclusive interview with Fox News, claimed he is fully committed to carrying out a plan to turn over and destroy his government’s chemical weapons — while continuing to deny responsibility for last month’s deadly chemical weapons attack despite new evidence that officials say implicates the Assad regime. Assad acknowledged that his government has chemical weapons. “It’s not a secret anymore,” he said, referencing his government’s decision to join the international Chemical Weapons Convention. Assad also said that the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack, in which more than 1,000 people reportedly died, was a violation of international law. “That’s self-evident,” he said. “This is despicable. It’s a crime.” Yet Assad adamantly denied that his government was behind the attack, continuing to push the theory that the opposition was behind the strike. Assad brushed off the allegation, suggesting the sarin gas could have been brought in by an outside government. The U.S. government and its allies reject these claims, and say it is now clear that Assad’s government launched the attack. “The technical details of the U.N. report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large scale chemical weapons attack,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Monday, calling this the “largest chemical weapons attack in 25 years.” Though Assad will not acknowledge culpability, the question now is whether his government will abide by a U.S.-Russia backed agreement to turn over his government’s chemical weapons. The agreement was struck over the weekend, leading President Obama to shelve the threat of military action in retaliation for last month’s attack. Obama administration officials claim they are not taking the threat of force off the table, but will wait to see if Assad abides by the agreement, which is still being formally drafted at the U.N. level. Assad told Fox News his government is “committed to the full requirements of this agreement.” Asked whether he would send the weapons anywhere to be destroyed, he said there are environmental risks in that task, but any country “ready to take the risk of those materials, let them take it.” Fox News contributor and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich helped secure the interview with Assad, and was beside Palkot in Damascus while it was being conducted.

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