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Elkin: Iran Watching U.S. Response on Syria

America’s response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons will send a signal to Iran, deputy minister says.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/26/2013, 11:02 AM

Zev Elkin
Zev Elkin
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The United States’ response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons will send a signal to Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Zev Elkin said Friday.

If the U.S. does not act to destroy chemical weapons in Syria, it will signal a reluctance to take action in Iran as well, he warned.

“If they don’t act on something they defined as a ‘red line,’ then the Iranians will learn that the red lines the West sets are very flexible, and will continue their nuclear program,” he told IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal).

“If the United States and the international community are able to take action and to take control of the chemical weapons reserves in Syria, the concerns over its use will not be relevant. It could be that as soon as the international community understands that red lines have been crossed, it will realize that there is no choice but to take action,” he continued.

What concerns Israel is not who leads the Syria government, but the question of who controls Syria’s chemical weapons and how to keep them out of use, Elkin added.

“The world is beginning to internalize the fact that chemical weaponry endangers us all,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Thursday that American intelligence believes Assad's forces have used chemical weapons. The Syrian opposition has called on the international community to intervene, a call that was backed by U.S. senators.