JERUSALEM – During a stopover in Israel on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry said a U.S. strike against Syria remains an option if President Bashar Assad fails to the comply with a deal brokered by the U.S. and Russia to remove his chemical weapons by next year.
“Make no mistake,’’ Kerry said “We’ve taken no option off the table.”
Hoping to win over skeptical Israeli leaders, Kerry said during a news appearance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the agreement for Syria could serve as a model for removing dangerous weapons from other countries.
“If we achieve that, we will have set a marker for the standard of behavior with respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea and to any other state, rouge state or group that would decide to try to reach for these kinds of weapons,” Kerry said.
He added that the U.S. and the international community must not stop at removing Syria's chemical weapons and must do more to end the country's civil war. But he said a military strategy will not resolve the conflict and only diplomacy will bring an end to the violence.
Kerry arrived in Israel after a meeting Saturday with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during which they agreed on a plan that would require Assad to disclose his chemical-weapon stockpiles within a week and allow international inspectors to remove them by mid-2014.