U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Thursday that Syria's chemical weapons could be consolidated and moved out of the country.
Kerry spoke to National Public Radio (NPR) as chemical weapons inspectors are continuing to assess Syria’s stockpile and how to destroy it, in accordance with a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Asked whether the agreement ensures that Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad will remain in power, perhaps for many more months, Kerry replied, “The fact is that these weapons can be removed whether Assad is there or not there because we know the locations, the locations have been declared, the locations are being secured. And my hope is that much of this material will be moved as rapidly [as] possibly into one location, and hopefully on a ship, and removed from the region."
Kerry emphasized that the way forward in Syria would have to be diplomatic and that maintaining state institutions is key to future progress.
"There is no military solution. Absolutely not. There is only a continued rate of destruction and a creation of a humanitarian catastrophe for everybody in the region if the fighting continues," he told NPR.
The inspectors’ work in Syria is based on the deal made by Russia and the U.S. after an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, which the West blames on Assad’s regime.
The deal stipulates that the regime’s stockpile be dismantled by the middle of next year and the UN mission is expected to continue until then. The deal averted a U.S. military strike in Syria.
Syria has won praise from both the members of the mission as well as from the U.S. for its rapid compliance with the UN resolution.