Sen. John McCain: "Very skeptical" about Syria chemical weapons handover

(CBS News) Despite his longtime support for military intervention, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that Congress will have to delay consideration of a military strike on Syria in order to let the possibility of a U.N. resolution aimed at forcing Syria to dismantle its chemical weapons program to "play out." 

 The Republican senator emphasized that he is "extremely skeptical" that the compromise will rule out a strike and defended his support of U.S. involvement, telling "CBS this Morning" that the momentum around military action likely added to the development of the proposed resolution.

"Perhaps this would not have come about if it hadn't been for the threat of a military strike," McCain said. "So there is some credibility to that course of action."

"I'm very skeptical [about the efficacy of the resolution]," McCain said, "because Bashar Assad has refused to acknowledge that he even has chemical weapons."

"The best test right away would be the Syrian acceptance of international monitors to go to these chemical weapons sites and get them under control immediately...while the details of whatever disposal and other modalities are being considered and agreed upon."

If Assad is seriously committed to avoid the possibility of U.S. military intervention, "then let the monitors in there right away," McCain said. "We know where these chemical weapons sites are and [we need to] get them under control immediately."

On Capitol Hill, he added, "Some of us are already working on a modification to a Congressional resolution that would require strict guidelines that would have to be met."

McCain also took aim at the lack of clarity provided by the White House and Secretary of State John Kerry when it comes to explaining to the American people just how a strike would unfold.

Monday night, President Obama told CBS News' Scott Pelley that a military option would be "very narrow" and have a "very specific objective." The president also ruled out a "largescale invasion or involvement or boots on the ground."

Kerry has also called for an "unbelievably small" strike and McCain asked Tuesday morning, "What does that mean?"

There is an "incoherence about the message" as to exactly what the U.S. is trying to do in Syria, McCain insisted, explaining his own vision. "I still strongly believe that the only way Bashar Assad leaves power is if there is a momentum change which leads to negotiations and his departure."

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