- (Photo: Reuters/Mike Theiler)
Arizona Senator John McCain believes Russia's proposal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons is a "stall tactic." The politician made his assertion following President Barack Obama's speech to the American people regarding a possible U.S. military strike on Syria earlier this week.
McCain said on Wednesday that he worries Syria is using its offer to give up its chemical weapons as a stall tactic to give the country time to hide its chemical weapons arsenal. While speaking at a Wall Street Journal-hosted Seib & Wessel breakfast in Washington, D.C., he urged the White House to hasten its decision on a possible military strike, saying: "I'm worried that we have a game of rope-a-dope for a while, and the slaughter goes on."
McCain also added that he remains extremely skeptical of Russia and Syria's agreement, saying the origins of the chemical weapons compromise made him "queasy." On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that after meeting with Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem, Lavrov had suggested that Syria agree to relinquish its chemical weapons to international control, where they would then be dismantled. Shortly after, Syria announced that it "welcomed" Russia proposal.
McCain made similar statements regarding his skepticism of this deal on Monday when he told TIME magazine that although he believes Russia's offer is "just a stalling tactic," the U.S. must still consider the diplomatic compromise.
"If there is an international [agreement], if you have the guidelines, the requirements, the reporting, the dates- all of that guided by a very detailed resolution to the UN Security Council, I think that you can't say no to it even though I'm very dubious that this is a real proposal," McCain said in a phone interview with TIME. "I think it's just a stalling tactic but to reject it out of hand is obviously not something that you can do."
McCain's comments on Wednesday come one day after President Barack Obama addressed the nation in a television conference on Tuesday evening. The U.S. claims to have proof that Syria's President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own people in a massive attack on August 21 near Damascus, killing over 1,000 civilians. The country has been embroiled in a bloody civil war for the past two years between loyalists to the Assad regime and rebels fighting for a new government. Reports claim that through the past two years more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria.
In his address on Tuesday, Obama said the U.S. will continue to explore Russia's plan for Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, although he, as commander in chief, reserves the right to take military action if the U.S. is in danger.
"I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use," Obama said.
"That's my judgment as commander in chief. [...] Meanwhile, I've ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails," the president added.
Also in his national address, Obama asked Congress to delay their Syria vote on a military strike until the diplomatic option is thoroughly explored, saying the diplomatic option "has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force."