Obama welcomes US-Russia deal on Syria chemical weapons (VIDEO)



Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) walks past US President Barack Obama as he arrives to pose for the family photo during the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. On Saturday, the United States and Russia came to an agreement on Syria's chemical weapons stockpile during intense negotiations in Geneva.



President Barack Obama welcomed the agreement reached by the United States and Russia in Geneva Saturday, which would rid the Syrian regime of its chemical weapons stockpile. 

In a statement Saturday, Obama added that "the United States remains prepared to act" if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime fails to comply. He said the deal came about "in part" because of the credible threat of American force.

While he called the deal "important progress," Obama said more work needed to be done.

"The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today," Obama said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the plan, which would impose a timetable on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after three days of talks in Switzerland.

Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria late last month had US President Barack Obama calling for targeted military strikes in retaliation of the Syrian regime violating an international norm.

The six-point plan orders the complete elimination or removal of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of next year, according to BBC News.

The exact amount of chemical weapons possessed by Syria is not clear, but some believe the nation's stockpile is the world's largest.

Kerry told reporters in Geneva that Assad must provide a "comprehensive listing" of the nation's chemical weapons stockpiles within the week, Reuters reported.

The plan, according to Kerry, calls for the "expeditious destruction and verification" of Syria's stockpiles and requires "immediate, unfettered access" to the country's weapon sites. 

The head of the Free Syrian Army, General Selim Idriss, rejected the deal point-blank on Saturday, telling reporters in Istanbul that the rebel group "cannot accept any part of this initiative," said Agence France Press

Canadian foreign minister John Baird and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also said they doubted Assad would abide by the proposed framework, according to The Canadian Press.

In contrast, France praised the new agreement as a "significant step forward," said AFP.

United Nations head Ban Ki-moon responded through a spokeswoman on Saturday, welcoming the deal provided it would help end the "appalling suffering" of Syrians, reported AFP

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his cautious endorsement of the plan, following a three-hour meeting with Kerry in Jerusalem. 

"The Syrian regime must be stripped of all its chemical weapons," Netanyahu said at a joint press appearance with Kerry. "This will make our region much safer."

He added that disarming Syria should be viewed as a warning to Iran that the West will not allow the country to develop nuclear weapons. "If a rogue regime has weapons of mass destruction, it will use them," Netanyahu said. "What is true of Syria is true of Iran, and vice versa."

ABC editor Jon Williams shared the draft framework of the agreement on Twitter: 

Russia has opposed US plans to strike in Syria, after the United States accused the Syrian regime of crossing a "red line" and using poison gas to kill an estimated 1,400 people on Aug. 21 near Damascus.

If Assad violates the timetable, a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military force or sanctions may be sought, according to the agreement, said BBC News.

Russia, a veto-wielding member of the council, has blocked aggressive action on Syria in the past. 

Referring to the new deal, Kerry said "we have committed to a standard that says, verify and verify," according to the Associated Press

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria according to UN estimates, since the conflict between Assad and an armed rebellion seeking his overthrow began in 2011. 

Here's Kerry speaking on Saturday about the deal: 

Meanwhile, word spread fast on social media: