Journalists and pundits often complain that North Korea’s motives are hard to understand. We can guarantee that after reading this article, you will have an excellent grasp on the current situation in North Korea. It provides a clear and comprehensive explanation of the strategies being played out in the region, including the relationship between North Korea, Japan, China, and the US, specific US plans for missile defense systems in the area….
admit to having a nuclear weapons program……
“The Bush administration may not be interested in removing North Korea from the threat list. A perceived North Korean threat is necessary to justify building the Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system, intended to counter China’s growing military and political power. With China’s economy growing at seven percent, it is only a matter of time before it dwarfs Japan in power and strategic influence. This worries sectors of Japan’s government, especially the military establishment, and also concerns the Bush administration, who do not want to see U.S. regional power and economic interests threatened by China. Since neither the U.S. nor Japan are willing to admit to building the new missile system to counteract a Beijing threat, North Korea is currently being used as the primary reason for creating the TMD in Japan.”
Read this very thorough report by Susan V. Thompson:
Susan V. Thompson, Editor
Leah Appet, Editorial Assistant
MoveOn Peace Bulletin, International Edition
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
1 Introduction: A High Stakes Game
2 One Link: North Korea Threat Part of US Regional Strategy
4 Axis of Evil
5 Nuclear Weapons Program
INTRODUCTION: A HIGH STAKES GAME
In 1994, the US and North Korea reached the brink of war when it was discovered that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons. The crisis was averted by the Agreed Framework negotiated by the Clinton administration, which had North Korea promise to stop developing nuclear weapons in exchange for two nuclear reactors, fuel oil aid, and improved relations.
Now North Korea has admitted to having a weapons program once again, after being presented with evidence of North Korean nuclear activities by US envoy James Kelly. The result has been global shock and confusion about North Korea’s motives. South Korean representatives have framed the admission as part of North Korea’s willingness to improve ties with the outside world. Other analysts believe that it is part of a traditional North Korean tactic of creating a crisis in order to force talks, and that North Korea may be using its nuclear capacity as a bargaining chip–as something to be exchanged for improved relations with the US or for aid. For its part, the US has declared that the admission makes the 1994 agreement null and void, dismissing the North Korean perception that the the US had already broken several of its own promises under the agreement, including the building of two nuclear reactors in North Korea by 2003….
The UN’s nuclear monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has issued a call for North Korea to admit weapons inspectors as soon as possible. However, the action cannot be enforced by the IAEA. It must be enforced by the UN Security Council, which is currently focused almost exclusively on Iraq. Even though the Bush administration and several of its allies have opted to stop shipping fuel oil to North Korea as a retaliation for the weapons program, there is still no talk of forcing inspections; nor has the US said that it is considering military retaliation if North Korea does not comply.
Considering the stance the US government is taking against Iraq, the relative disregard of the North Korean threat is raising questions about whether US foreign policy is inconsistent, or even hypocritical. The Bush administration is considering taking pre-emptive military action against Iraq based only on the unproven suspicion that Iraq has or could develop chemical and nuclear weapons; yet it seems unwilling to threaten any military action against North Korea even after North Korea has admitted to having a weapons program. North Korea also has an “evil dictator” who treats his people extremely poorly, and appears on the US list of countries that support terrorism, yet there is little talk of “regime change” for North Korea. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, has said that, “Not every policy needs to be put into a photocopier.”
But what’s the real reason that North Korea isn’t high priority? It could be because Iraq has oil, a resource which North Korea lacks. Or it could simply be that the US has already committed so many diplomatic and military resources to an attack on Iraq that it’s virtually impossible to back down and focus elsewhere at this point.
However, it’s more likely that emphasizing North Korea’s threat while not aggressively pursuing military action against the country is serving US strategic interests. How? According to several analysts, the US hopes to use the threat from North Korea as a tactic to push through the building of controversial missile defense systems in the area. Such missile defenses would help contain the growing threat from China, the one country that is developing enough economic and military strength to compete with the US. This is a much more appealing strategy for the US than directly attacking North Korea, which has its own army of 1.2 million and a strong alliance with nuclear capable China.
By admitting that it has a uranium-enrichment program, it appears that North Korea has quite literally called America’s bluff. It remains to be seen how the rest of the game will play out.
Read the rest of the report here
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