President Obama said Friday that a U.N. Security Council resolution requiring Syria to dismantle its chemical-weapons program is “a potentially huge victory for the international community.”
Even though the resolution doesn’t call for the use of force if Syria fails to comply, Mr. Obama said the agreement “represents potentially a significant step forward.”
“I think indicates what I had hoped for when I spoke at the United Nations just this week, that we have an international community that is not just gathering to talk, but also is able to take concerted action on behalf of enforcing international norms and preserving everybody’s security,” Mr. Obama told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with the prime minister of India.
Mr. Obama had called for missile strikes to punish the Syrian regime for an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack near Damascus that killed more than 1,000 civilians. The legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution would require Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program or face the threat of unspecified measures.
The deal reached by Britain, France, the U.S., Russia and China followed high-level talks in New York. The agreement is expected to be approved in a full Security Council meeting as early as Friday evening or this weekend.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the U.S. has not taken the threat of force off the table. The resolution calls for a return to the U.N. Security Council for a second use-of-force resolution if the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad fails to comply with the timetable.
Considering punitive measures would require the passage of an another resolution in the Security Council, where Russia is expected to block any proposal for the use of force or further sanctions.
Mr. Obama said he “always expressed a preference for resolving this diplomatically.”
“So we are very hopeful about the prospects for what can be accomplished, but obviously there is a lot of work to be done,” Mr. Obama said.