On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was unable to confirm whether or not Bashar al-Assad had turned over his chemical stockpiles, which was part of an agreement negotiated in Geneva last year.
Partial transcript as follows:
REPORTER: Jen, just a couple of things. So I’m clear, chlorine is not included in those — in the sum total of the most dangerous chemicals, of which 86 percent have been removed.
REPORTER: OK. Second, are you certain that the declared stocks of the most dangerous chemicals represent all of Syria’s such stocks, or is it possible they didn’t declare some?
PSAKI: Well, on the first question I think I answered it. And just to repeat, the chemical weapons convention prohibits the use of any toxic chemicals, so including chlorine.
REPORTER: I get that. I get that. I get that.
PSAKI: In terms of — what we’re talking about here in the declared chemicals. Obviously we continue to explore this. I don’t have any other additional updates. I will talk to our team and see if there’s some we can share.
REPORTER: So you can’t say whether you’re confident or certain that the declared chemicals indeed captures the total universe of those chemicals?
PSAKI: I will check with our team and see if there is more that I can convey. I certainly understand your question. Go ahead — (inaudible) –
REPORTER: And then — I’m sorry, one more, if I may. How — two more.
How long do you think it will take the OPCW to establish the facts of this incident? And secondly, do you believe that the OPCW will receive unimpeded access to be able to do this on the ground?
PSAKI: Well, the second question you asked is a big factor in answering the first question. So the time required to conduct any investigation of alleged CW use would be dependent on the circumstances surrounding the investigation, not least of all the cooperation of the host country. And again, they have not announced — obviously, they would be — broadly speaking, they would be a key player, in all likelihood, in any investigation. They have not announced that. They are pursuing that. We’re in touch with them, as are a number of international partners, and we’re continuing to work closely.
REPORTER: But — so in other words, you can’t say how long it might take, and you can’t say whether you are optimistic, given the agreement with Syria and Russia, that the Syrians will in fact provide access? You just — those are unknowns?
PSAKI: Well, I — those are unknowns. That’s exactly correct.
(h/t Washington Free Beacon)
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor