Tags: Syria | Syria | Assad | Manchin | Heitkamp

Senate Proposal: Give Assad 45 Days to Sign Chemical-Weapons Ban

Image: Senate Proposal: Give Assad 45 Days to Sign Chemical-Weapons Ban Syrian President Bashar Assad gestures during an interview with French daily Le Figaro in Damascus on Sept. 2.

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 10:03 AM

By Melanie Batley

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A draft resolution floated by two senators would give Syrian President Bashar Assad 45 days to sign an international chemical-weapons ban or face "all elements" of the U.S. military's power.

Crafted by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, the measure is designed as an alternative to a use-of-force resolution authorizing immediate military strikes to degrade Assad's war capabilities, Politico reports.

The use-of-force resolution passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 10-7, with Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey voting “present.”

The vote showed the deep divisions among lawmakers who are reluctant to use American military force in Syria but want to do something in retaliation for Assad's reported use of chemical weapons against his own people. The House is expected to consider a similar use-of-force resolution next week when it returns from the August recess.

The Manchin-Heitkamp proposal would require the Obama administration to build more international and congressional support before military action is taken, something that many lawmakers have called for.

"The failure by the government of Bashar al-Assad to sign and comply with the [Chemical Weapons] Convention clearly demonstrates a disregard of international norms on the use of chemical weapons," the draft proposal reads, Politico reported late Thursday.

"If the Government of Syria does not sign the Convention within 45 [days] after the date of the enactment of this resolution, all elements of national power will be considered by the United States government."

The resolution also calls for Obama to submit to Congress a long-term strategy for dealing with Syria and in the meantime maximize all diplomatic avenues with the international community to stop the proliferation and use of Assad's chemical weapons.

A spokesman for Heitkamp described the resolution as "a work in progress" intended to address "the very complex situation in Syria."





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