US: Syrian Chemical Weapon Issue Linked to Iran, North Korea

Explaining how Syria impacts us all. US Secretary of State Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of US State Department.

Explaining how Syria impacts us all. US Secretary of State Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of US State Department.

It might be easy to think that what happens in Syria stays in Syria, that the regime’s unleashing poisonous gas on its own people doesn’t affect Americans or Europeans. But the world’s response to Syria sends a signal to other nasty regimes—like Iran or North Korea and their dangerous nuclear programs. And that’s not my opinion. That’s what US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday.

“The threat of force is real, and the [Syrian] Assad regime and all those taking part need to understand that President Obama and the United States are committed to achieve this goal,” warned Kerry. “We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs because that affects all other issues, whether Iran or North Korea or any other.”

Iran and North Korea have worked on secret projects to develop nuclear weapons for years. Considering their regime’s mutual hate of the US and the West in general, should they acquire such weapons that would put you at real risk.

For now, the world has been trying to resolve the situation diplomatically and convince the Iranians and Koreans to give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. The similarity to the Syrian situation is clear: It’s like setting the standard for younger siblings by punishing an older one for rebelling.

If you let the oldest get by, the younger ones will learn and do the same or worse. If that disobedience happens to involve weapons of mass destruction, that’s a threat to everyone.

Speaking in Israel, Kerry was promoting a joint plan with the Russians to remove all chemical weapons from Syria by the first half of next year. According to a US press release, that includes Syria allowing the destruction of its production facilities for the weapons of mass destruction. Despite the opportunity in the plan, Kerry underlined that the US would not accept Syria deviating from the agreement.

“Make no mistake, we’ve taken no options off the table,” Kerry was quoted by a press release as saying. “President Obama’s been absolutely clear about the remainder of the potential of use of force if there is noncompliance or refusal to take part, because the egregious use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against innocent men, women, children.”

On the other hand, if the process goes well, it will send a good signal to Iran and North Korea: Allow diplomacy to work, or else. Said Kerry of removing Syria’s chemical weapons in the fastest and most efficient possible way, “If we achieve that, we will have set a marker for the standard of behavior with respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea and any other state, rogue state, group that decide to try to reach for these kinds of weapons.”

So will big brother Syria learn its lesson and pass it on to Iran and North Korea? Or will Syria find ways to evade its agreements and set a new standard for deadly disobedience? This bears watching to find out.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 15, 2013)




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