Fri, 06 Sep 2013 06:06:02 GMT

Inaction against Syria would encourage Iran, NKorea: Pentagon

From Lalit K Jha
Washington, Sep 6 (PTI) Inaction against Syria would encourage authoritarian regimes like North Korea and Iran to use chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, the Pentagon has said.

"We have very good information to suggests that the North Koreans do have stockpiles of chemical weapons. This was an issue that arose last week in Asia, when Secretary Hagel met with his South Korean counterpart," said George Little, Pentagon Press Secretary yesterday.

The Obama Administration argues that an inaction at this point would encourage authoritarian regime like North Korea to use chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

"This underscores what we''re talking about here, the international norm against the use of chemical weapons.

"If we sit idly by and allow the Syrian regime to perpetrate atrocities the likes of which we''ve seen recently, then what signal does that send to countries like North Korea? If the Syrians are allowed to get away with it, then perhaps it sends a signal that others might be able to get away with it, too," he said.

"We believe it''s a norm worth defending, and not just North Korea, but what about the Iranians? What about Hezbollah? What about other rogue actors in the international community? This is very serious business.

And it is very important not just for the United States, but for other countries to step up and say this international norm is worth defending," he argued.

Little argued that North Korea and Syria are having relationship on any number of fronts.

"The al-Kibar nuclear reactor was built with the support of the North Koreans. So, there has been a relationship and an exchange of information between the North Koreans and the Syrian regime for some time," he said.

"I can''t count out the possibility that they''ve discussed or shared information on chemical weapons," he added.

A similar argument was made by lawmakers too.

"We have to look at the signals that it sends rogue states like Iran or North Korea if we don''t act. But we also have to consider the possibility that our action would cause a further escalation of violence in the region and it might well cause Assad or Hezbollah to strike against American targets," said Senator Susan Collins.

The Pentagon is currently preparing for a military strike against Syria and awaiting for a formal order from the US President, Barack Obama, who wants to take this action to hold the Assad regime accountable for the use of chemical weapons to kill its own people.

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