Dear Mr. Reinke,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your concerns related to Syria.
Since the April 2011 start of the Syrian conflict, more than 100,000 people have died, at least two million Syrians have become refugees according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and approximately five million Syrians are internally displaced. Based on the evidence that I have seen as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the evidence presented in the UN Chemical Weapons Report on Syria, I believe that there were chemical attacks in Syria, and that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against its own people. The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attacks, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime. The use of chemical weapons clearly violates international norms and rejects international agreements banning the use of chemical weapons.
This grave attack, which United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has called “a crime against humanity,” requires a strong international response. We need to send a clear message that this kind of atrocity cannot be repeated, and those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable. I support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.
On September 14, 2013, the United States and Russia agreed to a “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons,” which creates a series of conditions for Syria to meet its stated obligation to give up its chemical weapons. It takes into account the Syrian government’s decision to apply to join the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which bans the development, production, stockpiling and use of these weapons. Syria is one of only five countries that has neither signed nor acceded to the CWC, and a specific condition of the U.S.-Russia framework is that Syria will accede to the CWC and commit to provisionally apply the Convention prior to its entry into force. Under the framework, international inspectors must be on the ground no later than November with an initial on-site inspection complete by the end of November. The Framework targets the complete elimination of chemical weapons material and equipment for the first half of 2014, and provides that if Assad fails to comply, this issue is referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The adoption on September 27, 2013, by the full UNSC of a resolution that will ensure the Syrian regime’s compliance with its pledge to give up and destroy its chemical weapons is the most significant action by the Security Council since the start of the conflict in Syria, and I support this positive step. We should give this diplomatic route a chance to succeed as long as it is backed up with a credible use of force for non-compliance. Despite this positive trajectory, key issues remain. Implementation will be a challenge, and the Syrian government must meet tight deadlines. The international community, and the U.S. in particular, will need to verify Syria’s commitments, and inspectors must have unfettered and safe access to all chemical weapons sites. As past experience in Iraq has shown, this is not guaranteed, and we should continue to support longer term international efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria by political means.
As a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I have closely watched the crisis in Syria unfold over several years. I will continue to work to support international resolution of the Syria conflict that respects U.S. interests and the challenges we face at home and abroad today.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://warner.senate.gov.
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator
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A fat lot of good it did?
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