How the United States responds to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons will send a signal to Iran, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Zev Elkin said Friday.
“If they don’t act on something they defined as a ‘red line,’ then the Iranians will learn that the red lines the West sets are very flexible, and will continue their nuclear program,” he told IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal).
“If the United States and the international community are able to take action and to take control of the chemical weapons reserves in Syria, the concerns over its use will not be relevant. It could be that as soon as the international community understands that red lines have been crossed, it will realize that there is no choice but to take action,” he continued.
Israel is, at this point, unconcerned with who leads the Syria government, but rather with who controls Syria’s chemical weapons, Elkin added.
“The world is beginning to internalize the fact that chemical weaponry endangers us all,” he said.
Earlier this week the head of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Research Branch, Brig. Gen. Itay Baron, said that the Syrian government used lethal chemical weapons, mainly sarin gas, against armed rebels several times in the past few weeks, and is continuing to do so.
On Wednesday, a senior Free Syrian Army leader told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Assad has used chemical weapons, and that evidence has been gathered.
“We took some samples of the soil and of blood. The injured people were observed by doctors and the samples were tested and it was very clear that the regime used chemical weapons,” Free Syrian Army Chief of Staff General Salim Idriss said.
And on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Chuck Hagel confirmed the U.S.’s belief that Syria has used chemical weapons.
“The intelligence community has been assessing information for some time on this issue,” Hagel said, USA Today reported. “The decision to make this conclusion was reached in the last 24 hours.”