Don't even think about it --- that was the message from the west to Syrian president Bashar Assad about using chemical weapons.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saying:
"The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching very closely. And the President of the United States has made very clear that there will be consequences, there will be consequences, if the the Assad regime makes a terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people.
While he offered no specifics, Panetta cited intelligence reports suggesting Assad is on the verge of using chemical weapons.
Syria's deputy foreign minister says the west is using chemical weapons as an excuse to lay the ground work for intervention.
He also had this warning.
soundbite: Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal Maqdad saying (Arabic):
"What they must understand that any attack on Syria will not be just any 'walk in the park' for the Syrian people nor the Arab countries."
Charles Blair, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists says the real threat chemical weapons pose is often misunderstood.
SOUNDBITE: Charles Blair, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists
"It is not so much that the Assad regime is going to use the chemical weapons against the rebels. It is much more effective for them to be using bombs and bullets. Waht the real threat is, is that military control collapses. You have widespread looting like you did in Iraq, even with 200,000 coalition forces and some of the violent non-state actors, terrorists are able to get their hands on these agents. "
Discussions about chemicals weapons came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and international Syria mediator Lakdar Brahimi. The meeting with Russia, one of Syria's closest allies, has some speculating that Moscow has lost faith in Assad's ability to remain in power.