North Korea

Saturday, Jun 13, 2009

The North Korea situation is much scarier than the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, or anywhere else.

Its population of 22 million has been deeply propagandised since North Korea failed to take the South from the U.S. in the 1950s:

After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control.

Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook - Korea, North, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/KN.html.

North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK) uses its nuclear arsenal as a tool to play political games and extract money out of the western world (unlike India and Pakistan [at least, not as directly]). It also recently "voided the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War and tested several [nuclear] missiles" (Green/Bloomberg).

In December 2002, following revelations that the DPRK was pursuing a nuclear weapons program based on enriched uranium in violation of a 1994 agreement with the US to freeze and ultimately dismantle its existing plutonium-based program, North Korea expelled monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In January 2003, it declared its withdrawal from the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. In mid-2003 Pyongyang announced it had completed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods (to extract weapons-grade plutonium) and was developing a "nuclear deterrent." Beginning in August 2003, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US have participated in the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the stalemate over the DPRK's nuclear programs. North Korea pulled out of the talks in November 2005. It test-fired ballistic missiles in July 2006 and conducted a nuclear test in October 2006. North Korea returned to the Six-Party Talks in December 2006 and subsequently signed two agreements on denuclearization. The 13 February 2007 Initial Actions Agreement led to the shut down of three of the North's nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in July 2007. In the 3 October 2007 Second Phase Actions Agreement, Pyongyang pledged to disable those three facilities and provide a correct and complete declaration of its nuclear programs by the end of the year.

...

In May 2008, the US agreed to give 500,000 metric tons of food to North Korea via the World Food Program and US nongovernmental organizations... During the October 2007 summit, South Korea also agreed to develop some of North Korea's infrastructure, natural resources, and light industry.

CIA World Factbook

North Korea has a standing army of 1 million and "manpower fit for military service" of 8 million (CIA World Factbook).

The United States is on North Korea's doorstop with 28,500 military personnel as sitting ducks. The U.S. is also fomenting tensions with a summit between President Obama and President Lee Myung-bak set for Tuesday:

The leaders of South Korea and the United States are set to hold their first official summit Tuesday, which is expected to lay out a ``future alliance vision'' that calls for a broader alliance partnership beyond the security arena.

Lee, Obama to Outline New Alliance Vision, Jung Sung-ki, The Korea Times, June 14, 2009, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/06/116_46813.html.

The U.S. is prepared to “confront” a vessel suspected of carrying an illegal shipment and attempt to board it “consensually,” Rice told reporters. If the crew refuses a boarding or to go to a nearby port for an inspection, the U.S. would make clear “whose vessel it is” and the likely cargo, “to shine a spotlight on it, to make it very difficult for that contraband to continue to be carried forward,” Rice added.

China Warns Against Force in Carrying Out North Korea Sanctions, Green and Varner, Bloomberg, June 13, 2009, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aJTuIWhr5KGM.

The United Nations is isolating North Korea with continuing sanctions:

The sanctions are aimed at depriving the reclusive communist country of the financing used to build its nuclear program. A new U.N. resolution also authorizes searches of North Korean ships suspected of transporting illicit ballistic missile and nuclear materials.

Biden: Important to enforce NKorean sanctions, The Associated Press, June 14, 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iwlhL35A2ztIHM3SXt-k0qKVfuMgD98QH6680.

...the United Nations Security Council voted to punish the North for its May 25 nuclear test and its missile tests. The Council tightened sanctions, including an arms embargo and a provision that encourages high-seas searches of North Korean ships.

North Korea Vows to Produce Nuclear Weapons, Martin Fackler, The New York Times, June 13, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/14/world/asia/14korea.html?em.

China warned about the dangers involved in inspecting North Korean cargo under United Nations Security Council sanctions approved yesterday, saying countries intercepting vessels should avoid armed action.

“Under no circumstance should there be the use of force or the threat of use of force” in implementing the sanctions in Resolution 1874, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui said in New York. Inspecting vessels carrying North Korean cargo is “complicated” and “sensitive,” he said.

The Security Council voted 15 to O to punish North Korea for its May nuclear-bomb test and missile launches. The resolution authorizes stepped-up inspection of air or sea cargoes suspected of being destined for the development of nuclear arms or ballistic missiles. The measure also calls for new restrictions on loans and money transfers to North Korea.

...

Bosworth said this week that the U.S. is considering targeting North Korean financial deposits held in other countries as part of the effort to compel the regime to change its behavior.

Green/Bloomberg

North Korea is actually threatening the use of its military arsenal.

North Korea responded Saturday to new United Nations sanctions on Friday by defiantly vowing to press forward with the production of nuclear weapons and take “resolute military actions” against international efforts to isolate it.

...

“We’ll take firm military action if the United States and its allies try to isolate us,” the spokesman said, according to the KCNA, the news service.

The spokesman said that his nation had “reprocessed more than one-third of our spent nuclear fuel rods.”

...

American intelligence officials say they believe that North Korea may have one or two nuclear weapons and has produced enough bomb-grade plutonium already for several more.

...

Although the sanctions passed Friday tightened restrictions, the United States had hoped for more stringent penalties and for mandatory ship inspections. The Obama administration pushed for those inspections because of fears that the impoverished North would try to sell its weapons or nuclear material.

Fackler/New York Times

Serious stuff.

In a joint statement, the Obama administration also agreed to maintain the longstanding U.S. vow to defend South Korea from a North Korean attack.

U.S. Fortifies Hawaii to Meet Threat From Korea, The Wall Street Journal, Yochi Dreazen, June 19, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124535285705228571.html.

Not surprisingly...

In a first official response to last week's US-South Korean summit, the state-run weekly Tongil Sinbo said in its Saturday edition Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak "are trying to ignite a nuclear war".

"The US-touted provision of 'extended deterrence, including a nuclear umbrella' (for South Korea) is nothing but 'a nuclear war plan,'" Tongil Sinbo said.

N.Korea accuses Obama of nuclear war plot, Agence France-Presse (AFP), June 21, 2009, http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.33b78ee19629f3815e9f9ef7e17315dc.281&show_article=1.