* Kerry briefs Netanyahu on Geneva deal
* Netanyahu says world must also show resolve on Iran
By Jeffrey Heller and Warren Strobel
JERUSALEM, Sept 15 U.S. Secretary of State John
Kerry assured Israel on Sunday a U.S.-Russian deal to remove
Syria's chemical weapons would be effective, addressing concern
that a lack of resolve would embolden Iran in its nuclear drive.
"We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international
affairs, because that affects all other issues, whether Iran or
North Korea or others," Kerry said after talks with Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry briefed Netanyahu on what he called "the most
far-reaching chemical weapons removal ever", after the Israeli
leader said the deal would be judged on whether it achieved the
arsenal's "complete destruction".
Israeli officials had privately expressed dismay about U.S.
President Barack Obama's handling of the Syria crisis, fearful
that any failure to follow through with threatened military
action would encourage Iran to press on with its nuclear work.
"The Syrian regime must be stripped of all its chemical
weapons, and that would make our entire region a lot safer,"
Netanyahu said after his talks with Kerry.
"The determination the international community shows
regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime's
patron Iran. Iran must understand the consequences of its
continual defiance of the international community by its pursuit
towards nuclear weapons," Netanyahu added.
Standing alongside Netanyahu, Kerry said the framework
agreement he reached with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
in Geneva on Saturday "has the full ability ... to strip all of
the chemical weapons from Syria".
Kerry reiterated that the military option remained should
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fail to comply with the deal.
The accord called for Assad to account for his chemical
arsenal within a week and let international inspectors eliminate
it all by the middle of 2014.
"The egregious use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime
against innocent men, women, children, their own citizens, all
indiscriminately murdered in the dead of night is unacceptable,"
Kerry said, referring to an Aug. 21 attack that Washington says
killed more than 1,400 people.
"And we have said in no uncertain terms that this should
never happen again. This country (Israel) understands the words
'never again' perhaps more than any other," he said, a reference
to the Nazi Holocaust in which six million Jews were killed,
many of them in gas chambers.
Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of Syria's civil
war, a two-and-a-half-year conflict that has killed more than
100,000 people and pits the Iranian-allied Assad government
against rebels who include Islamist militants deeply hostile to
the Jewish state.
Netanyahu reiterated his call for a "credible military
threat" to back up sanctions and diplomatic efforts aimed at
curbing Iran's nuclear programme. Iran says its nuclear work is
In an interview on ABC's "This Week with George
Stephanopolous" aired on Sunday, Obama defended his handling of
the Syrian crisis.
Obama also said he and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
had exchanged letters about the Syrian situation and that Tehran
understood that a potential nuclear-armed Iran "is a far larger
issue" for the United States.
Earlier, Netanyahu again hinted at possible Israeli military
strikes on Iran should he deem diplomacy a dead end.
"In any case, Israel must be poised and ready to defend
itself, by itself, against any threat - and this capability and
readiness are more important now than ever," he said.
Netanyahu has called on Tehran to hand over all its uranium
enriched above 3.5 percent and to stop any further purification
toward possible weapons-grade level. Israel is widely assumed to
have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal.