U.S.: Attack on Syria May Deter N. Korean Chemical Use

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 10, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

The United States is ar­guing that a re­tali­at­ory at­tack on Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s re­gime could dis­cour­age North Korea from em­ploy­ing its own chem­ic­al ar­sen­al in re­gion­al con­flicts, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­por­ted on Tues­day.

Wash­ing­ton has been try­ing to per­suade China to back a U.S. plan to carry out lim­ited mis­sile strikes against the Syr­i­an mil­it­ary as pun­ish­ment for its widely as­sumed large-scale Aug. 21 sar­in gas at­tack on Syr­i­an ci­vil­ians just out­side of Dam­as­cus.

A pun­ish­ing mil­it­ary as­sault on the As­sad re­gime will strengthen the glob­al norm against the use of chem­ic­al weapons and send an im­port­ant mes­sage to oth­er coun­tries in pos­ses­sion of such arms, U.S. Un­der­sec­ret­ary for De­fense Policy James Miller said dur­ing trip to Beijing.

“I em­phas­ized the massive chem­ic­al weapons ar­sen­al that North Korea has and that we didn’t want to live in a world in which North Korea felt that the threshold for chem­ic­al weapons us­age had been lowered,” Miller told journ­al­ists in de­scrib­ing his Monday meet­ing with Wang Guan­zhong, the People’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s deputy chief of staff.

It is very much to China’s be­ne­fit that there is a “strong re­sponse to As­sad’s clear and massive use of chem­ic­al weapons,” Miller said he told the Chinese mil­it­ary of­fi­cial.

The Chinese gov­ern­ment is work­ing with Rus­sia to im­pede any U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil res­ol­u­tion au­thor­iz­ing the use of force against Syr­ia.

North Korea is be­lieved to hold a sub­stan­tial chem­ic­al ar­sen­al, meas­ur­ing between 2,500 and 5,000 met­ric tons of deadly pois­ons such as sar­in nerve agent, mus­tard gas, hy­dro­gen cy­an­ide and phos­gene, ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous re­ports. Py­ongy­ang has not signed the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion, which pro­hib­its the pro­duc­tion, pos­ses­sion and us­age of chem­ic­al arms.

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