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Is President Obama serious about chemical weapons?

Author: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health
August 31, 2013


The goal of any U.S. military action in Syria, U.S. President Barack Obama tells us, would be to prevent the future use of chemical weapons and to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for his misdeeds.

"I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria," Obama insisted during his interview Wednesday with CBS's Gwen Ifill, "but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable."

Before American cruise missiles reach their targets, however, several crucial diplomatic steps must be taken to not only stop the further use of nerve gases by the Syrian regime against its own people, but to prevent the use of chemical weapons from becoming the region's "new normal."

At the top of the list should be presentation of a resolution to the United Nations Security Council calling for changes in the enforcement and surveillance of chemicals used in the manufacture of organophosphate (OP) nerve gases, such as the sarin gas the Assad government allegedly used to kill more than 355 civilians in an Aug. 21st attack on a Damascus suburb.

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