United States Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday a U.S.-Russia deal has the “full ability” strip Syria of its chemical arsenal as United Nations inspectors turned over their report on the alleged use of chemical weapons to the Secretary-General.
Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem after briefing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the framework accord reached in Geneva on Saturday, Kerry said it “has the full ability ... to strip all of the chemical weapons from Syria.”
Kerry also said that the "threat of force is real" adding "we cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs."
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was preparing to brief the Security Council on Monday on the results of the investigation of the Aug. 21 chemical attack.
The U.S. and Russia struck a deal Saturday under which Syria will allow its stockpile of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by next year — easing a crisis over a threatened American military attack.
Kerry said Russia had stated that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime had agreed to give an accounting of its chemical arsenal within a week.
Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, announced the deal after a three days of talks in Geneva.
President Barack Obama on Sunday also defended the agreement that his administration reached with Russia to remove the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) listens as Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem September 15, 2013.
Addressing critics who've said the commander in chief hasn't handled the crisis smoothly, Obama said he wasn't concerned with "style points" but rather the end result of getting the Syrian regime to stop using chemical weapons.
“If that goal is achieved, then it sounds to me like we did something right,” Obama said on ABC's This Week.
A Syrian minister on Sunday called the deal a "victory" for Damascus, won by Russia.
"This agreement, an achievement of Russian diplomats and the Russian leadership, is a victory for Syria won thanks to our Russian friends," Syria's Minister for National Reconciliation Ali Haidar told Russian news agency RIA.
"We welcome this agreement. From one point of view, it will help Syrians exit the crisis, from another, it has prevented a war against Syria, having taken away the pretext for one from those who wanted to unleash (it)," he said.
It was not clear if the comments by Haidar, who is not in President Assad's inner circle of decision-makers, reflect the president's views.
Russia has been Assad's staunchest international ally, protecting him from three consecutive U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring him to end a two-and-a-half-year conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people.
NBC News' Daniel Arkin and Reuters contributed to this report.
First published September 15 2013, 3:29 PM