'This Week' Transcript: Secretary of State John Kerry

And I think if each congress -- member of congress looks at this case carefully, as they will, and makes judgments about what has happened, and then measured it against the stakes for our ally, Israel, against our interests with respect to Iran, our interests with respect to Hezbollah, with respect to North Korea, nonproliferation, enforcement of an almost 100-year-old prohibition on chemical weapons.

As America weighs, as the congress weighs the potential damage to America's credibility in the world, I think the members of congress will choose to do the right thing, and so does the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if I hear you correctly, you're saying the president is going to act no matter what. Meanwhile--

KERRY: No, I said he has the right to act--

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, will he?

KERRY: -- George, we are not going to lose this vote. The president of the United States is committed to securing the unity of purpose that he believes strengthens America. And I believe the congress will see that that's the responsible thing to do here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They are already declaring victory in Syria this morning, the Assad regime.

KERRY: Assad has said a lot of things in the course of this. I think the more he stands up and crows, the more he will help this decision to be made correctly.

I'm very, very confident that, as this case is made to people, the Congress will recognize, and the American people will come to see, the president is talking about a military action geared to deter the use of chemical weapons, and geared to diminish Assad's capacity, to degrade his capacity to be able to carry out those strikes.

The president is not talking about taking over this civil war. The president is not talking about boots on the ground. But the president is talking about doing something that upholds this international norm and I think makes it clear to Assad that much worse could happen if he were to continue to use these weapons.

The alternative for the Congress and for the world is that you grant Assad and people like him complete impunity, and you totally tear down the entire international process of accountability that has been built up over all these years. I do not believe members of Congress or other countries believe that's in anybody's interest.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. Secretary, is there anything Assad can do now to avoid a strike?

What if he turned over his stockpile of chemical weapons?

KERRY: We are obviously looking hard at what we can do to try to diplomatically move in ways that could secure the weapons. Russia and others may be able to play a role in that. There are a number of different proposals on the table.

But that doesn't mean the United States shouldn't proceed to make it clear that the authorization will be given to the president in order to guarantee that we do not have more chemical attacks similar to the one that we saw the other day, and also recognizing that this is one of many attacks that Assad is now engaged in.

I think that the evidence here is so clear and so powerful, that it provides us with a number of different options, but the most important one to have authority for right now is the ability to take this strike.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say that the evidence is clear, but President Putin and Russia calling it utter nonsense that President Assad would authorize this kind of a chemical strike, the president heading to Russia this week.

Your response to President Putin?

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