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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 18th, 2013
05:52 PM ET

Former congresswoman on Syria crisis: Russia can't keep saying 'nyet'

The U.S. and Russia gave Syria until Saturday to provide a full accounting of its chemical weapons stock pile.

Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center Jane Harman has said the U.S. evidence on the Syrian regime is "rock solid." But now Russia said it will present evidence the Syrian rebels used chemical weapons.

Harman said this will not be a point of impasse for a United Nations resolution.

"They own this problem now. Let's understand that if the deal falls apart, chemical weapons stay in Syria ... and imagine they get in the hands of the radical Islamists. Where will they be used? The post office address is Russia. This is an existential threat to Russia," said Harman.

"There is no way that the (Russian foreign minister) Lavrov can be "Mr. Nyet" past Saturday," said Harman.

Acting director of the CIA until six months ago Mike Morrell does not necessarily share Harman's confidence and optimism. He told Foreign Policy Magazine, "I think this is the Syrians playing for time. ... I do not believe that they would seriously consider giving up their chemical weapons."

Harman disagrees, saying Syria asked to sign the chemical weapons convention.

"Syria is in a box. It can't use chemical weapons at this point," said Harman. "By Saturday Russia has to
explain, as far as I know, why this deal didn't going through. We're not in the box, they're in the box, and they're the ones who would be the target of an attack."

"It is a mess on how we got here, but we're now headed to a place. We, the U.S., as partners with people in the region and in Europe, and hopefully with the world tuned in in a good way, we're headed to a place where Syria and Russia have to do the right thing," said Harman.

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