US Senator Diane Feinstein, pictured in the Senate in Washington in July© AFP 2013/ Paul J. Richards
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WASHINGTON, September 11 (RIA Novosti) – The head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday delivered an impassioned speech backing the use of American military force against Syria if diplomatic efforts fail, but also praising Russia for proposing a plan to have Syria place its chemical weapons under international control.
“I’d like to take a minute to give Russia credit for bringing forward this plan for a negotiated solution to the conflict. … Russia is sincere, wants to see a United Nations resolution and supports the Geneva process, which would accompany a negotiated settlement to Syria’s civil war,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on the Senate floor.
The Democratic senator from California met earlier this week with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, to discuss Moscow’s push to get the Syrian government to relinquish control of its chemical weapons stockpile.
Some US lawmakers backing military action against Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 outside Damascus have questioned Russia’s sincerity, saying Moscow is using its plan as a stalling tactic to delay the use of force against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
But Feinstein on Wednesday said Washington and Moscow should work together to eliminate Syria’s chemical arsenal. “Based on my conversation with Ambassador Kislyak, I believe that Russia’s goal is in fact to eliminate these weapons, and I would point out that that is also our goal,” Feinstein said.
“The ball really is in Russia’s court. Russia is the leader in this. I trust that it is sincere. I trust that Russia and the United States will come together and bring the other parties together and that it will be possible for the United Nations to act so the United States won’t have to,” she added.
But Feinstein also cautioned Moscow against delaying the process.
“Russia’s responsibility to get this done is enormous, and to move with all deliberate speed,” she said. “I think Russia and Syria must understand that the way to forestall a United States strike on Syria is for there to be a good-faith agreement and process underway to put all of Syria’s chemical weapons … under international control for eventual demolition.”
While saying that she hoped military force against Syria would not be necessary, Feinstein told her fellow senators that “the Assad regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons” and laid out some of the intelligence that she claimed shows that the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 attack that Washington says killed more than 1,400 people.
She also described in graphic detail the effects of the apparent chemical weapons attack on its victims, urging people to look at videos posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee website. “For me, the videos and watching them shows the abhorrence of chemical weapons. It shows why we must do something,” Feinstein said.
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