Syrian President Bashar al-Assad revealed on Wednesday that it would cost about $1 billion to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons under a U.S.-Russian deal reached last week.
Upon an interview on the Fox News TV channel, Assad said his government would dispose of its chemical weapons arsenal and it would take about a year, Assad said.
“I think it is a very complicated operation technically and it needs a lot of money. Some estimated about a billion for the Syrian stockpile,” he said.
When asked whether he would be willing to hand over chemical weapons to the U.S. government, Assad said:
“As I said, it needs a lot of money. It needs about 1 billion. It is very detrimental to the environment, If the American administration is ready to pay this money and take the risk and responsibility of bringing toxic materials to the United States, why don’t they do it?”
Moreover,Assad denied that his troops were responsible for a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, outside Damascus, on August 21 that brought the U.S. close to launch strike against Syria in response.
He said the Syrian army was advancing in the area at the time and had no need to fire rockets filled with the nerve agent sarin, as the United States says it did.
“The whole story doesn’t even hold together. It’s not realistic. So, no, we didn’t. In one word, we didn’t use any chemical weapons in Ghouta,” he said, speaking English.
U.N. chemical investigators confirmed on Monday the use of sarin in the attack in a long-awaited report that the United States, Britain and France said proved government forces were responsible
Assad said it was too early to make a definitive comment on the U.N. report.
Asked whether he had a message for President Barack Obama, Assad said: “Listen to your people. Follow the common sense of your people. That’s enough,” in an apparent reference to opinion polls that show Americans oppose any U.S. strike on Syria.