Obama On Why Syria "Red Line" Has Not Been Crossed: Chlorine "Has Not Been Listed As A Chemical Weapon"


QUESTION: On Syria, one of the reasons we are here is that many other nations in the region were upset that more than two years ago Bashar al-Assad deployed chemical weapons, there was no military respons as you appeared to promise; with no retaliation on the part of the U.S.

Now there is the possibility that Assad has once again used chemical weapons. What did you tell these leaders here who were disappointed last time, and will you use a military response if it is confirmed that he used chemical weapons again -- once again deployed them...

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: First of all Michael, I don't know why you are here. But the reason I'm out here is not because of what happened in Syria a couple of years ago. The reason I am here is because we have got extraordinary challenges throughout the region.

Not just in Syria, but in Iraq and Libya and Yemen, obviously the development of ISIL. And our interest in making sure we don't get a nuclear weapon in Iran.

With respect to Syria, my commitment was to make sure that Syria was not using chemical weapons, and mobilizing the international community to ensure that that would not happen.

And in fact we positioned ourselves to be willing to take military action.

The reason we did not was because Assad gave up his chemical weapons. That is not speculation on our part, that is the finding of the international organization charged with eliminating chemical weapons.

And I don't think there are a lot of folks in the region who are disappointed that Assad is no longer in possession of one of the biggest stockpiles of chemical weapons of any country on earth. Those have been eliminated.

It is true that we have seen reports about the use of Chlorine in bombs that had the effect of chemical weapons. Chlorine itself has not been listed as a chemical weapon but when it is used in this fashion it can be consider a prohibited use of that particular chemical. So we are working with the international community to investigate that.

And in fact if we have the kinds of confirmation that we need, we will once again work with the international community and the organization charged with monitoring compliance by the Syrian government, and we will reach out to patrons of Assad like Russia to put a stop to it.

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