FILE - This Thursday, Aug.1, 2013 file photo posted on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency, purports to show Syrian President Bashar Assad talking with soldiers with during Syrian Arab Army day in Darya, Syria. As the Obama administration tries to prod Congress into backing armed action against Syria, the regime in Damascus is hiding military hardware and shifting troops out of bases into civilian areas. (AP Photo/Syrian Presidency via Facebook, File)
One year and $1 billion — according to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, that’s what it would take to get rid of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.
Assad sat down with former congressman Dennis Kucinich and journalist Greg Palkot. Assad said his agreement to have Syria’s weapons destroyed was also a full admission that, yes, Syria has chemical weapons. (Via Mediaite / Fox News)
Fox News: “Do you have chemical weapons or don’t you?”
President Assad: “Of course, when we joined the treaty last week, it means that we have, and we said that, so it’s not secret anymore.” (Via Fox News)
Assad said he’ll fully comply with any agreement between the U.S. and Russia to get rid of the chemical weapons, adding that he has been onboard with a plan to rid the Middle East of WMDs for at least a decade. (Via CBS)
Assad’s willingness to handover his country’s chemical weapons isn’t without it’s hurdles, though.
“I think it’s a very complicated process technically ... ” (Via Sky News)
Assad estimated the United States would have to invest nearly $1 billion and about a year’s time to get rid of those weapons. Beyond that, the Syrian president said he didn’t care where the weapons are taken.
This was Assad’s second interview with American media in just two weeks. Just like his September 9th interview with Charlie Rose, Assad claimed innocence in last month’s chemical weapons attack, disputing the U.N.’s new report.
Assad didn’t outright deny the report’s findings, but said it lacks hard evidence. Polkat pressed Assad on the point, and Assad responded by saying sarin gas could’ve been used by the rebels or anyone for that matter. (Via Al Jazeera)
He also doubted the validity of the horrific images of Syrians reportedly suffering from sarin gas. Assad told Polkat “we live in a world of forgery.” (Via ABC)
Aside from the Syrian president’s denial of executing the chemical weapons attack, critics took issue with the person interviewing Assad.
The New York Times cites a release from Fox News which said it was Kucinich’s idea to pursue an interview with the Syrian president, “on condition that Fox News journalists would also be included.”
The Atlantic points out it seems odd Kucinich would be the one to interview Assad given their history. “Kucinich visited Assad in June 2011 and came under fire for apparently supporting the regime just as the civil war was beginning. Kucinich was quoted by Syrian media saying Assad was ‘highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians,’ at a press conference.”
Assad’s interview comes the same day Russia declared they have evidence Syrian rebels launched the chemical weapons attack.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Russian plans to submit evidence that “prove[s] the fact that the opposition regularly resorts to provocations to bring about strikes and intervention against Syria.”
Assad also revealed he had never spoken to President Obama. When asked if he would like to, he said, “That depends on the content. It’s not a chat.”