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Levin calls timeline for Syrian disarmament 'amazingly short'

The stringent timeline set by the White House and its allies for Syria to shift control of its chemical weapons program is creating concern that the country will have enough time to comply.


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Syrian President Bashar Assad has a week to disclose all details of its chemical stockpiles to the international community, under the terms of a deal struck between Washington, Russia and Syria.

"That is an amazingly short timetable" to meet that critical milestone, Senate Armed Services Committee chief Carl Levin (D-Mich) said Sunday.

If the Assad regime fails to meet that one-week deadline, the entire disarmament plan could be put in jeopardy, Levin said during an interview on CBS's "Face The Nation."

It will be Moscow's responsibility to put pressure on Assad, which is Russia's biggest ally in the Mideast, to meet the terms of the chemical weapons deal, according to the Michigan Democrat.

Efforts by Russian diplomats "will be key" to getting Assad to reveal the details of his chemical arsenal, Levin said.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced  Saturday that a framework has been reached to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.

International inspectors would be on the ground by November and all stockpiles should be removed or destroyed by mid-2014, Kerry said at a joint news conference with Lavrov.

The Russian deal temporarily staves off planned U.S. military strikes against Syria in retaliation for alleged chemical attacks by the regime against rebel forces in the country.

If Syria fails to meet any of the mandates in the disarmament deal, sanctions or military force could be allowed under a U.N. Security Council resolution.

But Russia's repeated efforts on the council to block any U.S.-led initiative to curb Assad's forces in the country's civil war, along with its strategic ties to Assad, puts "'the threat of force . . . very much in Russian hands" Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Sunday.

Kerry and the Obama administration negotiated the Syrian disarmament deal "with a weak hand," Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, said during an appearance on "Face The Nation."

"I think we should be skeptical" on Syria's compliance with any of the terms in the deal, he added.

But Levin dismissed Corker's claims, noting the decision to use military force in Syria remained firmly in the White House's hands.

Moscow's "No. 1 goal [was] to force us to give up" military options in Syria as part of the disarmament negotiations, Levin said.

"Russia has failed in that goal," the added.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin "got exactly what he wanted" in Syria, as a result of the Syrian disarmament plan, House intelligence committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday.

"This was a big win for him," the Michigan Republican added during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."