In a January interview with National Public Radio, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice touted the Obama administration’s success in negotiating the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons.
Days before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Rice spoke with NPR “Morning Edition” host Rachel Martin about her assessment of the past eight years. Rice said her greatest regret was that the Syrian civil war continued to rage after nearly six years.
But one administration success, she noted, was that “we were able to find a solution that didn’t necessitate the use of force that actually removed the chemical weapons that were known from Syria, in a way that the use of force would never have accomplished.”
“Our aim in contemplating the use of force following the use of chemical weapons in August of 2013 was not to intervene in the civil war, not to become involved in the combat between Assad and the opposition, but to deal with the threat of chemical weapons by virtue of the diplomacy that we did with Russia and with the [United Nations] Security Council,” Rice continued.
“We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile,” she argued.
On Tuesday, it became clear that the Syrian government did not give up its entire stockpile. The U.S. government identified the Assad regime as the perpetuator of a chemical weapon attack on a rebel-held village in northern Syria that killed dozens of civilians.
Assad had previously used chemical weapons after the Obama administration brokered a deal with Russia to remove the Syrian regime’s stockpile, according to reports, but Tuesday’s attack brought the 2013 agreement under renewed scrutiny.
Rice is not the only Obama administration official who trumpeted the deal. In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry claimed the U.S. had successfully removed “100 percent” of Syria’s chemical weapons.