When asked by Wolf Blitzer if the proposal for Syria to turn over their chemicals weapons to the international community for monitoring was a way to possibly avoid a military strike, the president said:
It’s possible if it’s real, and I think it’s certainly a positive development when the Russians and the Syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemicals weapons. This is what we have been asking for not just over the last week, or the last month, but for the last couple of years, because these chemical weapons pose a serious threat to all nations, and to the United States in particular. That’s why 98% of humanity said we don’t use these. That protects our troops and it protects children like the ones that we saw on those videos inside of Syria, so it is a potentially positive development.
I have to say it’s unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there were even public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemicals weapons use inside of Syria, but we’re going to run this to ground, and John Kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the Russians and the international community to see can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious.
One reason why this may have a chance at success is that even Syria’s allies like Iran detest chemical weapons. Iran unfortunately was the target of chemicals weapons at the hands of Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq War. And so we may be able to arrive at a consensus that doesn’t solve the underlying problems of a civil war in Syria, but it does solve the problem that I’m trying to focus on right now which is making sure that you don’t have over 400 children gassed indiscriminately by these chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, the president was telling Fox News that he expects the debate in Congress to take weeks, not days.