Administration says chemical weapons deal not a 'green light' for other violence in Syria

President Obama's ambassador to the United Nations used a progress report Tuesday on Syria's elimination of chemical weapons to slam President Bashar Assad's regime and demand that it allow access to relief workers.

Samantha PowerSamantha Jane Power#FreeAustinTice trending on anniversary of kidnapping in Syria 'Unmasker in Chief' Samantha Power spewed anti-Trump bias in government emails 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE made the remarks as U.S. allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, have lambasted the administration for backing off plans to strike Syria. Power said the U.S.-Russian agreement to have Syria turn over its weapons to the international community isn't a substitute for Assad stepping down.

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“I also want to address a myth associated with the chemical weapons elimination,” Power said. “The chemical weapons agreement and implementation have not changed the U.S. position on Assad. A man who gasses his people – and who uses Scuds and all other forms of terror against his people – is not fit to govern those people.” 

“It remains the United States’ commitment — one that I know is shared by my Council colleagues — to ensure that a red light for one type of weapon does not become a green light for others. Eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons is not a substitute for ending the violence engulfing the country.”

Power made the remarks after the coordinator of the joint mission between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons updated the world body on efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons capacity. Since operations began on Oct. 1, the joint OPCW-U.N. mission has inspected 21 of 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of 41 facilities located at these sites, Sigrid Kaag told the U.N. on Tuesday.

“It is outrageous that the Syrian government, which has granted visas and facilitated the work of the chemical weapons inspectors, has not lifted a finger to allow relief workers into the country to assist those citizens who are in desperate need,” Power said. “We have seen what the Assad regime can do when it is held accountable, and indeed what this Council can do when it is united, as it was on the question of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. We must work with a similar sense of urgency to address the devastating, deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground.”

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