Jerusalem • Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that the United States would maintain its threat of unilateral military force to ensure the success of the plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
“This will only be as effective as its implementation,” Kerry said in a joint news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. “The threat of force is real.”
Kerry traveled to Jerusalem as the first stop in a series of meetings with allies to assure support for the chemical-weapons deal, which was completed Saturday in Geneva. After conferring with Netanyahu, Kerry left for Paris for another meeting with close allies. On Monday, he plans to meet with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
After meeting with Kerry, Netanyahu offered support for the plan, the first official sign of Israel’s approval. Earlier, speaking at a state ceremony commemorating the Israelis killed in the 1973 war, he had also expressed a measure of skepticism.
“We hope that the understandings reached between the U.S. and Russia on Syrian chemical weapons will yield results,” Netanyahu said. “Those understandings will be judged by the results — the total destruction of all the chemical weapon stocks that the Syrian regime used against its own citizens.”
Both the prime minister and Kerry said the world’s response to the chemical-weapons attack last month near Damascus would serve as a message to Iran as the West prepared to resume negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.
“Here, too, it is not words that count, but the deeds and results,” Netanyahu said. “In any case, Israel must be ready and prepared to defend itself with its own forces against any threat, and that capability and readiness is more important now than ever.”
Kerry said Sunday that the agreement reached with Russia was a “framework, not a final agreement” and still had to be put into effect through a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Under the Geneva pact, the terms of the accord are to be included in a resolution under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which would authorize punitive measures if Syria does not comply. While Russia is unlikely to allow a military strike among those options, President Barack Obama has said the United States remains prepared to launch a unilateral strike if Syria fails to meet its commitments.