“There’s a lot of impatience because there’s a lot of terrible things that are going on,” Levin told reporters after the briefing. “But on the chemical side, at least on the part of the witnesses, there’s some optimism that part of it will work.
Levin said the optimism stemmed from the fact that disarming Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles was in everyone’s interest, including Russia’s.
Asked about removing the chemical weapons in the midst of a civil war, Levin said the administration did believe it was possible.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to believe, even though there’s a lot of fighting going on in the middle of it.”
Republicans said they were skeptical about the plan to remove Syria’s chemical weapons.
“I have serious doubts that Syria will completely comply with what they’ve agreed to do,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). “I suppose any progress is better than none.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he didn’t believe what the administration witnesses had told him.
“They say it. You can say that pigs fly, but I just don’t believe it,” McCain said.
McCain said that Russia may be on board with Syria removing its chemical weapons, but he said conventional Russian arms continue to flow into the country.
“Now we have the interesting situation where Russian arms are flowing in … to arm [Syrian President] Bashar Assad while we’re taking out chemical weapons,” he said. “It’s a scenario the likes of which I have never seen.”