Former Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the Obama administration knew that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad kept some of his chemical weapons despite an international agreement brokered to remove the entire stockpile by mid-2014.
“We said we got a hundred percent of the declared weapons out, which is what the Organization for the [Prohibition] of Chemical Weapons was able to track,” Kerry said on Fox News. “We knew that Assad had kept some, and we tried to go to the [United Nations] Security Council, and, unfortunately, Russia played games and we didn’t get there.”
In 2013, the United States and Russia struck a deal to remove Syria’s entire arsenal of chemical weapons from the country by the middle of 2014. Kerry and other Obama administration officials publicly touted the deal as a major success.
“We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in 2014.
In 2015, however, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told the Obama administration that it had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at the Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Center in the district of Barzeh, near Damascus.
A U.N. report later concluded that the Assad regime was responsible for a chemical attack on the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017. According to the OPCW and other organizations, the regime has used chemical weapons in several other instances since 2014, including chlorine in a chemical-weapons attack on the city of Douma in April.
Kerry said Wednesday that he agreed with President Donald Trump’s military response to Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons in Douma.
“I agreed with President Trump’s use of force; I thought it was the appropriate thing to do.”
The former secretary of state, who served under President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017, added that he does not think military force alone will resolve the conflict in Syria.
“What I think was missing and is still missing, is the diplomatic initiative, because there’s not going to be a military solution to the opposition in Syria,” he said.