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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 17)

All Headlines 07:08 April 17, 2018

Warning on brutal act
Kim Jong-un should pay heed to Syria strike

The U.S.-led air and sea launched missile strikes Saturday on Syria were aimed at punishing the Middle East country for its regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. The military action should serve as a strong warning against any attempt to develop and use such banned arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S., Britain and France staged a joint operation, hitting Syrian chemical weapons facilities with 105 cruise missiles. This surgical strike came after the Bashar al-Assad regime allegedly used sarin and chlorine in the April 7 attack on the last remaining rebel stronghold in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus, killing more than 70 civilians.

The alleged gas attack reminded the world how brutal and violent the regime is. It was also no doubt a crime against humanity. The international community should not tolerate any such actions. Yet it is somewhat disappointing to see the United Nations do little to take harsh measures against Syria in the face of opposition from Russia and Iran.

This was not the first time for Syria to carry out a chemical attack. The Assad regime has allowed chemical weapons to be used in rebel-held areas at least seven times during the seven-years-long civil war. In 2013, over 1,000 people were reportedly killed by similar gas attacks.

Now, the U.S. and its allies ought to form a broader international coalition to prevent any state or non-state actors from making such an attack. They also need to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Syria to conduct a thorough investigation into the use of the banned weapons. Additionally, they must work together to prevent such a tragedy from happing again.

The strikes on Syria came after U.S. President Donald Trump appointed a hawkish figure, John Bolton, as his national security adviser. Trump also nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be his secretary of state. These two figures are likely to help Trump take a more hard-line stance in settling international matters of great concern.

In this context, North Korea needs to pay more attention to the Syrian case. There were suspicions that Pyongyang had supplied parts and material to Syria to develop chemical weapons. The North also reportedly made other dubious deals with the Middle East nation.

The strikes on Syria took place ahead of the third inter-Korean summit scheduled for April 27 and another summit between the U.S. and North Korea in May or June. They seem to be a clarion call for Pyongyang to stop its nuclear gambling and take the path toward denuclearization and peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un should translate his diplomatic overtures into action.

What Kim should keep in mind is that if the Washington-Pyongyang summit fails to produce tangible results for complete and immediate denuclearization of the North, Trump might shift to military options. With the help of Bolton and Pompeo, Trump could give a "bloody nose" or wage a pre-emptive strike to destroy nuclear facilities in the North. It depends on Kim whether to move forward for a better future or not.

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