GENEVA — The United States and Russia reached a sweeping agreement on Saturday that called for Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014 and indefinitely stalled the prospect of American airstrikes.
The joint announcement, on the third day of intensive talks in Geneva, also set the stage for one of the most challenging undertakings in the history of arms control.
“This situation has no precedent,” said Amy E. Smithson, an expert on chemical weapons at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “They are cramming what would probably be five or six years’ worth of work into a period of several months, and they are undertaking this in an extremely difficult security environment due to the ongoing civil war.”Uh huh. And where's the beef?
Two Republican senators who are among President Barack Obama's sharpest foreign policy critics on Saturday blasted a Syrian chemical weapons agreement as "an act of provocative weakness" by America that will embolden enemies such as Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapon.
The House Democratic leader said the deal, under which Syria will be expected to put its stockpile of chemical weapons under international control before they ultimately are destroyed, represented "significant progress" in efforts by the U.S. to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.
"What concerns us most is that our friends and enemies will take the same lessons from this agreement: They see it as an act of provocative weakness on America's part," Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a joint statement. "We cannot imagine a worse signal to send to Iran as it continues its push for a nuclear weapon."You may be wondering what's so provokingly weak about threatening to bomb a country and then they give up all their chemical weapons. But seriously, when Obama threatens to send missiles somewhere and doesn't--he's being such a tease! Oh, Statler and Waldorf, you are the grumpiest!