By Carlo Muñoz - 09/14/13 10:07 AM EDT
While the White House continues to pursue a diplomatic solution to the ongoing stand off in Syria, Washington "must be prepared to act" militarily, should President Bashar Assad rebuff the wishes of the international community.
"If diplomacy fails, the United States and the international community must remain prepared to act," he said in his weekly address on Saturday.
Administration officials are pursuing a Russian-led plan to force Assad to relinquish control of his chemical weapons stockpiles to international control, led by the United Nations.
Moscow's eleventh-hour disarmament deal for Syria has temporarily staved off targeted military strikes against regime targets inside Syria.
Obama was poised to order the strikes in retaliation for alleged chemical weapons attacks by Assad's forces against anti-government rebels in the country last month.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week to hammer out the details of the plan.
While Obama was willing to let the negotiation process run its course, he warned the military option must remain on the table, to ensure the Assad regime complies with any disarmament deal.
"We’re making it clear that this can’t be a stalling tactic," Obama said Saturday.
"Any agreement needs to verify that the Assad regime and Russia are keeping their commitments" to allow UN officials access to the chemical weapon stockpiles, with the end goal of destroying those weapons, according to the President.
"If current discussions produce a serious plan, I’m prepared to move forward with it," Obama added.
The Russian plan was a significant break by the country's leaders, who had been one of Assad's biggest supporters since the Syrian civil war began over two years ago.
However, Obama made clear that Moscow's offer would not have been possible, unless American forces in the region were poised to strike.
"This this plan emerged only with a credible threat of U.S. military action," the President said, noting that only the continued threat of military strikes would guarantee Moscow and Damascus comply with international norms governing chemical weapons.
To that end, the Pentagon extended the deployments of two American warships, the Navy Destroyer USS Burke and aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, in the coastal waters near Syria.
The extended mission for those two warships is part of the department's efforts to maintain a viable military option for the White House.
Despite those efforts inside the Pentagon, Obama was adamant the White House was committed to reaching a diplomatic solution in Syria.
"We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children," he said.
"But if there is any chance of achieving that goal without resorting to force . . . I believe we have a responsibility to pursue that path," the President added.