North Korea has been dragged into the Syria debate:
A failure to punish Syria over its alleged use of Sarin gas against civilians could embolden other rogue states such as North Korea, which is already stockpiling chemical weapons, U.S. officials said.
North Korea “maintains a massive stockpile of chemical weapons that threatens our treaty ally the Republic of Korea and the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate hearing on Syria in Washington yesterday, referring to South Korea. U.S. allies “must be assured that the United States will fulfill its security commitments.”
His comments came hours after the publication of a South Korean Defense Ministry report concluding that North Korea had the capability to launch a missile tipped with a nuclear warhead, technology that the U.S. has contended was years away. North Korea threatened first strikes against South Korea and the U.S. in March after a February nuclear test prompted a tightening of United Nations sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime.
Chuck’s comments elicited an editorial from the Chosun Ilbo, which called on the government to consider an international agreement—apart from the North Korea nuclear issue—to deal with the North Korean chemical weapon issue. It also called for a re-verification of Seoul’s defensive poster regarding a chemical weapon attack.
This whole thing has got me wondering, though. If we—and by we, I mean the Americans and possibly the French—are prepared to help a bunch of Christian-killing Al-Qaeda nutjobs to protect “international norms” in Syria, what would we be prepared to do if, in the event of a general uprising, Pyongyang begins gassing its own people? Would we launch air strikes on North Korea?