Kerry to Russia: 'This cannot be a game'

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said any deal to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons to  international control must include a “fully verifiable process.”

“I don’t want to raise expectations because there are some big hurdles as far as verifiability and implementation that we have to cross,” Kerry said in a department-sponsored Google hangout about the proposal Russia offered Monday. 

“This cannot be a game, and that we have made very, very clear to the Russians,” he said. 

He had just gotten off the phone, he said, with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, whom he said is sending formal observations to the White House Tuesday about how the Syria deal can be achieved. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Kerry participated in a 30-minute discussion with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, journalist Lara Setrakian and Andrew Beiter, a regional education coordinator for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Kristof recently said he endorses military strikes in Syria. 

Kerry had just returned from Capitol Hill after testifying on Syria before the House Armed Services Committee. 

The deal on Syria's chemical weapons had been expected to be discussed at an emergency meeting at the United Nations Tuesday afternoon, but that meeting was postponed.

“We need a full resolution from the Security Council in order to have the confidence that this have the force that it ought to have,” Kerry said. 

Russia, however, which is Syria’s principal ally, has blocked the process from moving forward previously at the U.N. with China by its side, he added. 

Kerry said the Obama administration has been working with Russia to organize a Geneva II Syria conference to solidify the terms by which Syria joins the chemical weapons convention. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin clarified Tuesday the deal would only work if the U.S. renounces its air strikes plan on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

An overwhelming percentage of people in the United States have said in surveys they are opposed to strikes. 

When asked in the Google hangout if the U.S. would be sucked into a larger war if action is pursued, Kerry reiterated what he and President Obama have said. 

“No boots will be on the ground. Not today, not ever in the future.”

Obama is scheduled to speak to the nation at 9 p.m. about Syria.