News / Asia

What Message Would US Acting in Syria Send to Iran and North Korea?

What Message Would US Acting in Syria Send to Iran and North Korea?i
X
September 01, 2013
Part of President Barack Obama's argument for a military strike against Syria is a threat to broader U.S. security concerns in the Middle East and Asia. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what U.S. action in Syria might mean for Iran and North Korea.

Syria_Iran_NoKor_WEB_16X9_-_Broadband-FCPImportProResP1-fixed-x264-Platform_YTHDFull

TEXT SIZE - +
— Part of President Barack Obama's argument for a military strike against Syria is a threat to broader U.S. security concerns in the Middle East and Asia.

Secretary of State John Kerry says acting against Syria's use of chemical weapons matters far beyond its borders.

"It is about whether Iran, which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons attacks, will now feel emboldened, in the absence of action, to obtain nuclear weapons," he said. "It is about Hezbollah, and North Korea, and every other terrorist group or dictator that might ever again contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction.  Will they remember that the Assad regime was stopped from those weapons’ current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impunity?"

Acting in Syria would not only check President Assad, it would show President Obama's seriousness to Iran and North Korea, says analyst Michael O'Hanlon.

"Several dozen cruise missiles, perhaps, and a day or two of strikes is probably enough to achieve the immediate purpose of restoring deterrents of weapons of mass destruction use and hopefully getting countries like Iran and and North Korea to notice as they pursue, or consider pursuing nuclear ambitions that President Obama's red lines to them still mean something," he said.

North Korea has held three nuclear tests and a series of long-range missile launches since international talks on its nuclear program stalled nearly five years ago.  Confronting Damascus now is no time to lose sight of Pyongyang, says analyst Michael Auslin.

"Now that Syria is really heated-up, let us keep your eye on North Korea because they might try to pull something right now when they know all of our attention is focused in one direction, pull something on the undefended side of things," he said.

Syrian troops have reversed earlier gains by anti-Assad rebels with help from Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Using Syria to send a message to Iran may not work as President Obama intends, says analyst Doug Bandow. "To the extent that Iran feels isolated and threatened, in many ways it's more likely to pursue a nuclear weapon," he said.

Bandow says attacking Syria could further convince Iran of its need for a nuclear deterrent. "A lot of people hope if you break Syria you weaken Iran.  And to some degree you do.  But that does not necessarily help advance your larger objective, which is to encourage Iran to be less defensive and encourage Iran to come into the international community and set aside any nuclear ambitions," he said.

Chemical weapons in Syria also threaten U.S. allies in the region, says Secretary Kerry. "It matters to Israel.  It matters to our close friends Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, all of whom live just a stiff breeze away from Damascus," he said.

Israel has deployed missile defenses against a possible Syrian attack.  But Bandow says striking Israel is too big a gamble for President Assad.

"The Syrian government understands that Israel has overwhelming military force.  So at a time when Syria is engaged in a battle for the regime's life, it can not afford to open a second front with Israel," he said.

Bandow says in many ways the bigger threat for Israel is a win by Syrian rebels because he says those divided opponents would have a far harder time managing state arsenals including chemical weapons.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid