On Aril 14, the U.S., U.K. and France launched strikes against targets at three sites in Syria suspected of housing chemical weapons. This action was in response to an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government on rebel forces – despite the Syrian government’s denial of such an attack – and reflects the United Nation’s determination to strike back against the Syrian government’s inhumane acts.
The Western allies stated that they launched a raid against the “crimes of a monster,” referring to the Syrian regime’s use of prohibited chemical agents against civilians, including children. There is no reason a government should use such inhumane weapons against its own people, and doing so goes against the agreement made in the international community a century ago following World War I to ban chemical warfare. Hence, it is vital to carry out a strict investigation into Syria’s weapon program and to pressure its government together as an international community. The United States, by establishing a deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons, and implementing a “bloody nose strategy,” has also successfully prevented warfare, and laid odds in its favor for upcoming negotiations.
It is important to note how this situation in Syria will affect decisions regarding North Korea’s nuclear and missile program. Our (South Korea’s) foreign affairs advisers see this attack on Syria as an indirect warning to the North Korean Kim Jong Un regime, as the country has been suspected of illegal transactions with Syria, including the export of chemical weapon parts. With the advent of the 2018 North Korea–United States summit, the actions which the U.S. has taken in Syria are apparently a measure meant to pressure North Korea into thinking seriously about denuclearization. Since National Security Advisor John Bolton played a big part in the Syria strikes, it is also likely that he will employ the same tactics in North Korea.
The U.S. State Department has said that it’s time to “ensure the DPRK is serious about credible negotiations that lead down the path to the permanent and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea." South Korea is erring on the side of caution as we do not want to see a clash between our powerful neighbors. In times like this, the government should focus on managing the situation by tightly collaborating with the United States. The Blue House used the slogan “Peace, a New Beginning” for the inter-Korean summit. We should always keep in mind that the path to peace and unification of the Korean peninsula is more difficult than ever, and act accordingly.