Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) exclusively told Breitbart News on Monday that he believes the plan from Russian to secure Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad’s chemical weapons–a plan Assad reportedly has agreed to–would be “a great step forward” if it actually happened.
“I think it would be a great step forward if Assad were willing to do it and if Russia were willing to monitor it or an international authority with Russia,” Paul, an outspoken opponent of U.S. military strikes in Syria, said in a phone interview with Breitbart News on Monday. “I think part of diplomacy and getting things to work is allowing people to save face. If there’s a way Russia can save face in this thing and be part of an international coalition, that’s what we should shoot for.”
“I think one of the biggest problems with bombing Assad is that if we bomb Assad and we destabilize the chemical weapons and they become loose within the country and al Qaeda gets access to them, then I think that’s the real disaster,” Paul explained. “Even [Secretary of State John] Kerry admitted it would take 75,000 American troops to secure these weapons, and that’s what I’ve been saying all along–that bombing may actually lead to more instability.”
“But having an international body take control of the chemical weapons would add much greater stability, and I think it would be a benefit for all of us if that would happen,” he added.
Paul’s comments came during a wide-ranging interview on the conflict in Syria and the proposal by President Barack Obama and his administration that the U.S. should militarily respond to Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
According to the Associated Press, after Kerry said on Monday that Assad had one week to turn over the weapons, effectively drawing a new “red line,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced Russia would pressure Assad to comply. “If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said. “We are calling on the Syrian leadership to not only agree on placing chemical weapons storage sites under international control, but also on its subsequent destruction and fully joining the treaty on prohibition of chemical weapons.”
Shortly after Lavrov’s comments, the Washington Post reported that Syria “welcomes” the idea. “The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday said it welcomed a Russian proposal to avert U.S. military strikes by having Damascus turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors,” the Post reported. “The statement by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in Moscow offered the first indication that a diplomatic solution may be possible to the international standoff that has evolved since apparent chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held suburbs outside Damascus on August 21.”