The Bush administration has reiterated its pledge to
impose U.S. sanctions on Syria.
U.S. officials said the sanctions would be imposed within the next two
weeks. But they acknowledged that the administration, under pressure from
the CIA and State Department, have postponed the imposition of sanctions
several times over the last six weeks.
On Friday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Syria has
not responded to repeated U.S. appeals to dismantle its weapons of mass
destruction, end the harboring of groups deemed as terrorist and withdraw
troops from Lebanon. McClellan said the United States also has serious
problems with Syria's inability to control its border with Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We have concerns about the situation in Lebanon when it comes to
Syria," McClellan said. "And we certainly have concerns about Syria's
continued development of weapons of mass destruction. We've expressed those
concerns to Syria and we are moving forward on the Syria Accountability
The Syria Accountability Act, passed in December 2003, authorized
restrictions on the export of U.S. goods to Syria. Officials said most of
the sanctions sought by the administration would be largely symbolic.
"We are going to continue to move forward on these sanctions," McClellan
said. "Our goal is to make sure that we take steps that will lead to Syria
changing its behavior."
Several leading members of the House and Senate have expressed dismay
over the postponing of sanctions. They said Congress might consider
legislation that would pressure the administration to launch specific and
harsh sanctions on Damascus.