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Rockefeller Statement on Syria


Location: Washington, DC

Senator Jay Rockefeller IV released the following statement today on the situation in Syria.

"I understand and agree with the American people's deep reluctance to support military action in Syria after more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the intelligence is clear: the Assad regime used chemical weapons to murder a large number of innocent Syrian civilians, which is a grave violation of longstanding international law and a meaningful threat to core U.S. national security interests. We cannot stand by and allow this atrocity -- and this threat -- to pass without consequence. We must make it clear to Syria, and to any other rogue regime that might consider following in Syria's heinous footsteps, that the use of chemical weapons will bring forceful repercussions.

"Given the developments of the last two days, I am in agreement with the Administration's efforts to put an end to Assad's chemical weapons capabilities through international intervention short of military strikes. For the time being, we should pursue this possible diplomatic path. But make no mistake, it was the United States' threat of force that prompted Russia and Syria to move toward this approach in the first place, and they will not follow through unless we maintain our pressure.

"Now, we cannot allow the Assad regime to delay. Assad must take immediate tangible steps to relinquish his control of Syria's chemical weapons, and he must agree to a rigorous and comprehensive system for securing, identifying and dismantling those weapons. Moreover, we cannot accept any interference with -- or threats to the safety of -- the international inspectors who would undertake this important mission.

"Most importantly, if the effort for an international diplomatic solution falters, we must be prepared to go further. We must not waver in our resolve that the United States cannot and will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons.

"Preventing Assad's use of chemical weapons unquestionably serves a core national security interest of the United States now and in the future -- deterring the use and proliferation of chemical weapons everywhere so as to diminish the likelihood of a chemical attack against Americans anywhere. This fundamental U.S. interest is the reason why I believe we must be prepared to move forward with a limited military strike unless Assad fully gives up control of his chemical weapons in the near term.

"I do not support putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria, and I do not support any other form of U.S. military intervention or so-called "nation-building' that could drag the United States into the intractable, centuries-old sectarian turmoil in the Middle East.

"Instead, any military action we consider in Syria must be narrowly focused on achieving one specific goal: preventing the use of chemical weapons. We must send a clear message to those who would consider developing, proliferating or employing these weapons of mass destruction in the future -- the United States will not tolerate it."

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