Obama on Syria Chemical Weapons: Need to ‘Rethink the Range of Options Available to Us’

Fred Lucas | April 30, 2013 | 2:34pm EDT
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President Barack Obama answers questions during his new conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013 in Washington. The president said the US doesn't know how chemical weapons were used in Syria or by whom. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said his administration will “rethink the range of options available to us” with regards to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, a step by Syria that Obama in the past has described as a “red line” and “a game changer,” and that “as president of the United states, I don’t bluff.”

On Tuesday, the president said his administration was moving with caution. Though Obama repeated that the use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer,” he was vague when asked if that meant military action.

Syria is led by President Bashar al-Assad, who has killed tens of thousands of his own people. Numerous reports in recent weeks claim that Assad is using chemical weapons against rebels seeking to overthrow him.

“What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them; we don't have chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened,” said Obama at a White house press conference today.  “And when I am making decisions about America's national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts.”

“That's what the American people would expect, and if we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in the position where we can't mobilize the international community to support what we do,” Obama said.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks with English-language television channel Russia Today recorded at an unknown date in Damascus, Syria. Assad vowed to "to live in Syria and die in Syria", declaring in an interview broadcast Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 that he will never flee his country despite the bloody, 19-month-old uprising against him. (AP Photo) RUSSIA OUT TV OUT

“There may be objections even among some people in the region who are sympathetic with the opposition if we take action,” said Obama.  “So, you know, it's important for us to do this in a prudent way. And what I've said to my team is, we've got to do everything we can to investigate and establish with some certainty what exactly has happened in Syria, what is happening in Syria.”

Amid calls from some on Capitol Hill for action in Syria to prevent further bloodshed in that country, Obama further insisted that Assad is no longer a credible leader and must go.

“What is true, though, is that if I can establish -- in a way that not only the United States but also the international community feel confident -- is the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, then that is a game changer because what that portends is potentially even more devastating attacks on civilians,” said Obama.  “And it raises the strong possibility that those chemical weapons can fall into the wrong hands and get disseminated in ways that would threaten U.S. security or the security of our allies.”

A reporter then asked, “By game changer, do you mean U.S. military action?”

Obama responded, “By game changer, I mean that we would have to rethink the range of options that are available to us.”

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