Disappointed in form letters and history lessons from our congressional representatives…..
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern over the possible use of military force against the Syrian regime. As you are aware, on August 21st the Syrian government of Basher al Assad unleashed chemical weapons on its own people in a suburb outside of Damascus. According to a report assembled by United Nations chemical weapons inspectors, eyewitnesses and numerous other data and evidence, the regime used rockets to deliver a nerve agent that released deadly gas, killing an estimated 1,429 people, including 400 children. The UN weapons inspectors confirmed that rockets armed with the banned chemical nerve agent Sarin were used in a mass killing concluding that: “The findings are beyond a doubt. It is a war crime.”
Following the Assad regime’s use of deadly chemical weapons against its own people, it became clear that the international community including the United States, had the responsibility to respond to this act of brutality and clear violation of a long-held international norm. Syria currently has an estimated 1,000 metric tons of chemical warfare agents and precursor chemicals, as well as thousands of munitions that can be used to deliver chemical warfare agents. The further use of these powerful weapons against innocent civilians is an appalling prospect, and it is essential that we seek, with partners in the region and beyond, to remove these weapons from the Assad regime’s possession and to destroy them.
The United States and Russia, along with other members of the United Nations Security Council, have agreed on a framework with the goal of moving Syria’s chemical weapons under international control so they may ultimately be destroyed. Under the agreement, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must provide a complete list of the types, quantity, and locations of his country’s chemical weapons stockpiles to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) by this Friday. The agreement also calls for immediate and unfettered access to Syrian chemical-weapons sites for on-site inspections and the dismantling and destruction of chemicals, mixing agents, munitions and delivery systems that form the regime̵ 7;s chemical weapons infrastructure. However, if the Assad regime does not fully comply with the delivery of its chemical weapons stockpiles in an expeditious and transparent manner, the threat of an international military strike will remain. The credible threat of military force has been instrumental in driving diplomatic progress, and it is important that the Assad regime lives up to its obligations under the framework agreement.
The view in the Congress and the country is that having international law and a trusted family of nations strip Syria of its chemical weapons would be far preferable to military action by the U.S. I believe that we should let that process play out, and work vigorously towards a solution that eliminates the possibility of chemical and biological weapons from ever being used again on the Syrian people or pose a threat to our allies in the region, such as Israel, Jordan, and Turkey. The use or loss of control of chemical weapons stocks in Syria could have unpredictable consequences for the Syrian population and neighboring countries, as well as U.S. allies and forces stationed in the region. The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to global security and I look forward to supporting a diplomatic solution that will secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.
Again, thank you for contacting me regarding this important issue. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance on this or any other matter.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator