4.06.2009

Unpredictable North Korea & the Nuclear Question

by Emily Norton
Special to iVoryTowerz

North Korea is like one of those unpredictable crazy ex-girlfriends. What I mean is the country is predictably unpredictable, deceitful, and will always come back to haunt us somehow. After launching its first nuclear test in 2006, could we really be surprised that North Korea unsuccessfully attempted to put a satellite into space that instead landed in the ocean and scared the pants off Japan?

While some weakly posit that the North Koreans are simply trying to race their South Koreans brothers to space, Washington seems convinced that the act of testing long-range missiles was an endeavor to keep us on our toes. It appears that North Korea is flexing its muscles. Even though it failed to accomplish its supposed mission to dispatch a satellite into space, in the process, the country did exemplify its capability to shoot long-range ballistic missiles. While this was of course not the labeled intent, it certainly raised eyebrows as to what else North Korea is developing behind its closed (and locked) doors.

Taking a break from a summit with European Union leaders in Prague on Sunday (April 5), President Barack Obama called for strong censure for this rogue state (acting with all the outrageousness of an ex-girlfriend), an act not only implying the real threat of North Korea, but also again raising the issue of nuclear noncompliance. While Obama's speech helped him recover momentum after recent criticism (his economic plans are a topic for another day), the situation still leaves me uneasy. In the president's words, “Now is the time for a strong international response, and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons.” However, I wonder whether or not is really best to “push for strong Security Council action." Will this reaction cause an escalation of North Korea’s potentially dangerous acts?

Let us not ignore the words of North Korea’s foreign ministry just two years ago: "Our military will continue with missile launch drills in the future," it added, insisting such action was "our legal right." I worry that we are playing into Kim Jong Il’s hands. Also its likely that an aggressive counter-strategy will not bode well for our important relationship with our economic partner China. As of now, China disagrees with our negative assumptions about North Korea’s “satellite launching” motivations. In essence, what will the crazy ex-girlfriend do next? And if China is her boyfriend, are we barking up the wrong tree?

(The photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il meeting with troops is from the North Korean Central News Agency and is in the public domain; the photo was released in August of 2008. To see a portion of President Obama's speech in Prague about the Korean nuclear question, please check the video below.)











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