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Kerry to Syria: 'The Threat of Force Is Real'

A day after US/Russia 'framework' agreed to, US still clings to bellicose rhetoric

by
Andrea Germanos, staff writer

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syria on Sunday that the U.S. "threat of force is real."

Speaking in Jerusalem flanked by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kerry made the warning a day after the U.S. and Russia reached a "framework" on Syria's chemical weapons.

"The threat of force is real and the Assad regime and all those taking part need to understand that President Obama and the United States are committed to achieve this goal," Kerry said.

"We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs, because that affects all other issues, whether Iran or North Korea or others," he said.

Netanyahu echoed Kerry's comments from Saturday, saying, "if diplomacy has any chance to work, it must be coupled with a credible military threat."

Kerry also implied that Iran should still worry about the threat of U.S. military force. "My suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn’t draw a lesson that we haven’t struck [Syria] to think we won’t strike Iran," Haaretz reports Kerry as saying.

And after the talks with Kerry, Netanyahu said, "The determination the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime's patron Iran. Iran must understand the consequences of its continual defiance of the international community by its pursuit towards nuclear weapons."

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Netanyahu added, "The Syrian regime must be stripped of all its chemical weapons, and that would make our entire region a lot safer." However, as Agence France-Presse notes:

Although Israel's main newspapers hailed news of the agreement, some commentators raised the question of Washington leaning on Israel to ratify the international treaty banning the use of chemical weapons.

"Kerry may tell Netanyahu the United States is working to remove one of the gravest threats on Israel's security, by combining a credible military threat with creative diplomacy," wrote Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz newspaper.

"Now, Kerry may say, the US needs Israel's help by ratifying the treaty prohibiting the use of chemical weapons."

Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, but never ratified it, despite demands to do so from Washington and Moscow.

Also, while the U.S. is a ratifier to the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty, it continues to have a stockpile of chemical weapons it vowed to destroy by 2012.

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