U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement in response to President Obama's speech on Syria. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Russia, together with China, has protected the Assad regime and stymied repeated attempts by the U.S. and other responsible nations at the UN Security Council to hold it accountable. How can we trust the Russians to convince Assad to willingly hand over his chemical weapons? The use of chemical weapons merits a strong U.S. military response that will act as a deterrent for other rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea. It is in the US national security interest to keep the use of poison gas from becoming normalized and accepted in clear violation of the Geneva Convention and international norms. The Geneva Convention should not be interpreted as allowing a "free first use of gas."
Many questions remain about the Russian proposal:
* Will the Assad regime grant access to all of its facilities and stockpiles, or just a select few?
* Who will monitor and be in possession of the chemical weapons and any other WMDs in Syria?
* Will the United States be part of the inspection team?
* How will the weapons be secured while Syria's conflict continues and with no end in sight?
* Will there be a UN Security Council resolution? Will it compel Assad to comply and will there be consequences should there be any violations of the resolution?
* What concessions are the U.S. making to Russia to secure this plan?
I have repeatedly called for the Assad regime to grant UN inspectors immediate access to all of its WMD facilities and stockpiles so that they can be protected, sealed and dismantled. If the UN is to gain access to Assad's materials and weapons now, it must not be limited to just chemical weapons, it must be for all WMDs, and it must be given unfettered access with verifiable assurances that nothing has been hidden, moved or transferred."