Saturday, October 07, 2006

North Korea Threatens a Nuclear Test

North Korea is led by an unstable regime, almost definitely with nuclear weapons. In July, while in the middle of a devastating flood in occurring in their country, killing hundreds and leaving thousands homeless, Pyongyang test-fired six missiles, including the new Taepodong-2, believed to be capable of reaching western United States. Although it failed after 40 seconds, the launching was labeled “provocative” and North Korea was immediately slapped by more sanctions from Japan, and an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting was called in New York. Because of the harsh sanctions the North Koreans are already facing, not much was achieved from this meeting. Recently, evidence has been building up that North Korea is going to attempt a nuclear test. Spy satellites have shown activity around a possible test site. Then this week, Pyongyang has announced that it will conduct a nuclear test. The U.S. representative to the United Nations, John Bolton, said a test “would be extraordinarily serious.” Kim Jong Il, the leader of North Korea, must either reform or choose a new government, as well as not being allowed to carry out a nuclear test.

There are four options to dealing with possibly the most dangerous of the “axis of evil”; non-aggressive diplomacy, more aggressive diplomacy, living with a nuclear North Korea, or the second Korean War. Because aggressive diplomacy is taking a long time to work (if it ever works), non-aggressive diplomacy could seem a good option. There are many problems with soft diplomacy. This would mean mainly the U.S. and Japan would have to give into Jong Il’s demands. Included in these demands are that the United States would return frozen assets of a North Korean’s banks back to the Macau bank. In addition, Japan would have to stop sanctioning Pyongyang. The U.S. would grudgingly sign a non-aggression pack, leaving South Korea at risk. The major problem with a treaty with North Korea and soft diplomacy is that the last time an agreement was made by the U.S., by former President Bill Clinton, it was broken by Pyongyang, and the Jong Il decided to blame it on President Clinton. Another option, a little more aggressive diplomacy, might involve more sanctions but definitely six-party talks involving the United States, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, and of course North Korea. This has occurred before, but negotiations have stalled. For the negotiations to restart, North Korea demands that the U.S. let go of taken assets from a Macau bank the United States and others believe counterfeits American dollars. China is North Korea’s closest ally, and must work harder in these talks. An additional option, doing nothing, would most likely lead to an arms race in the region if Taiwan or South Korea obtains nuclear weapons. Besides that, the North would also be able to threaten countries, and terrorists might be able to obtain a nuclear weapon, or materials for a dirty bomb. A military operation could easily have dire consequences, but there might be the chance of victory. If successful, there would most likely not be an insurgency, as in Iraq. The problem would not be after the war, as with Iraq, but during. North Korea has the world’s fourth largest army, the third biggest chemical and biological weapons arsenal, and most importantly, probably around 4 or 5 nuclear warheads. But first, diplomacy must be attempted. Even though everyone wants this to have a peaceful outcome, war is still an option. But if the world cannot come to terms with North Korea, and a military force is either unsuccessful or is decided to be not worth the risk, we will have to live with this insane dictatorship.