Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kerry Says He Hopes Syria's Chemical Weapons Are Shipped Out Of Region

Secretary of State John Kerry flies over Afghanistan on Oct. 11. He met with President Hamid Karzai to work out an agreement on U.S. presence in the country.
Jacquelyn Martin
AFP/Getty Images
Secretary of State John Kerry flies over Afghanistan on Oct. 11. He met with President Hamid Karzai to work out an agreement on U.S. presence in the country.

Syria's chemical weapons could be consolidated and moved out of the country, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested in an interview with NPR.

Weapons inspectors are still in Syria assessing the country's stockpile and how to destroy it, in accordance with a United Nations Security Council resolution approved in September.

Asked by Morning Edition host Renee Montagne whether the agreement ensures that Syria's President Bashar Assad will remain in power, perhaps for many more months, Kerry replied:

"The fact is that these weapons can be removed whether Assad is there or not there because we know the locations, the locations have been declared, the locations are being secured. And my hope is that much of this material will be moved as rapidly [as] possibly into one location, and hopefully on a ship, and removed from the region."

Where such a ship would go is unclear, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, and even the logistics of dealing with the weapons inside Syria are complicated.

"The Chemical Weapons Convention bars countries from moving their stockpiles — but in Syria's case, a U.N. resolution allows it and urges member states to help," Kelemen says.

Ralf Trapp, a consultant in chemical weapons disarmament, tells Kelemen that the idea of moving the material has been under discussion. However, he adds:

"It's a big, big logistical operation, and just doing this under peacetime conditions is not an easy job, so doing this under the conditions of Syria today is a challenge."

In an interview airing Thursday on Morning Edition, Kerry emphasized that the way forward in Syria would have to be diplomatic and that maintaining state institutions is key to future progress.

"There is no military solution. Absolutely not. There is only a continued rate of destruction and a creation of a humanitarian catastrophe for everybody in the region if the fighting continues," he said.

His remarks follow a two-week trip abroad, including two days in Kabul, where Kerry met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The leaders reached a deal on the terms of U.S. presence in Afghanistan after its combat mission ends.

"Everything that will be necessary to a successful agreement is in the agreement. We succeeded in defining exactly what the limits would be for American participation in the future," Kerry said.

But a council of public and tribal leaders, known as the loya jirga, still has to sign off on the issue of jurisdiction over American forces who would be stationed in Afghanistan.

"Needless to say, we are adamant it has to be the United States of America. That's the way it is everywhere else in the world," Kerry said. "And they have a choice: Either that's the way it is or there won't be any forces there of any kind."

The Washington Post took issue with Kerry's statement, noting that in the many places where U.S. troops are stationed abroad, agreements on criminal jurisdiction over those troops can vary.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.
Latest Stories