Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday he is trying to amend a resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria to include a plan to dispatch international monitors to the country to secure its chemical weapons stockpiles.
McCain, who has long led the charge to increase U.S. military presence in Syria and arm the Syrian rebels, said he remains skeptical of any commitment by Russia to pressure Syria to give up its chemical weapons. But he said it is an avenue that needs to be pursued.
McCain said the U.S could find out how serious Syria is about handing over its chemical weapons by calling for the country to allow international monitors to Syria's chemical weapons storage sites — a first step to secure them before dismantling. He said the initial action could take place immediately.
“There are a group of us who are working on, senators who are working on an amendment, or change to resolution, that allows for this kind of action and requires guidelines, reporting process and benchmarks that have to be met that would be in addition to the resolution,” McCain said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) delayed a procedural vote initially scheduled for Wednesday on the resolution after the developments Monday.
According to The Associated Press, Syria’s foreign minister said Tuesday that the country has accepted a proposal to place its chemical weapons under international control.
McCain said President Obama needs to send a decisive message in Tuesday night’s national address but predicted it could be muddled and “not particularly decisive because of this new wrinkle.”
He said there is a degree of “incoherence” on the part of the Obama administration, jumping on Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks Monday that any strike would be unbelievably small.
McCain’s comments come a day after the foreign minister of Russia embraced comments by Secretary of State John Kerry that President Bashar Assad’s regime could avoid a military strike from the United States if it handed over its chemical weapons stockpile in the next week.