President Obama today lauded the deal reached on a United Nations resolution to require Syria to give up its chemical weapons, saying it represents a "significant step forward."
"This is something that we have long sought," the president told reporters in the Oval Office, following a meeting with India's prime minister.
Under a deal reached Thursday, a draft resolution by the U.N. Security Council would demand Syria abandon its chemical weapons stockpiles and allow unfettered access to inspectors and experts.
A vote on the resolution is expected as early as today.
Having a framework that "would be legally binding, that would be verifiable and enforceable, where there would be consequences for Syria's failure to meet what has been set forth in this resolution, I think is a potentially huge victory for the international community," Obama added.
The president said his threat of military action against Syria for its use of chemical weapons was critical to reaching an agreement. "Realistically, it's doubtful that we would have arrived at this point had it not been for a credible threat of U.S. action in the aftermath of the horrific tragedy that took place on August 21st, where chemical weapons killed over a thousand people, including more than 400 children," he said.
The president praised the international community for arriving at a resolution "that not only deters and prevents additional chemical use but actually goes beyond what could have been accomplished to any military action, and that is the removal of chemical weapons, one of the largest stockpiles in the world, from Syria so that they can actually be destroyed/"
Obama admitted there are still concerns about Syria's ability to follow through and technical issues surrounding the removal of chemical weapons in the midst of a civil war.
"Nevertheless, this represents essentially a significant step forward," the president said, lauding the international community for "not just gathering to talk" at the U.N. but also taking "concerted action on behalf of enforcing international norms and preserving everybody's security, including those in the region and obviously the people of Syria themselves."