Nuclear threat in North Korea and US response

We've not said anything about the North Korean nuclear issue before but we are doing so now, joining with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in expressing our concern over the spread of nuclear weapons and the apparent failure of the Bush administration to address it effectively. PSR was the deserved recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for their decades long effort to end the threat of nuclear holocaust.

The North Korean threat highlights the issue once again. Nuclear weapons in the hands of any nation is a danger to all of us. The United States recognized this when it signed the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996, after years of negotiations. One objective of the CTBT was to prevent countries like North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and further disseminating technology that could allow others to acquire them. But the US Senate has yet to ratify this treaty. It is an appropriate time to do so, when they are criticizing other nations like Iran and North Korea.

PSR has issued a statement on the North Korean problem with summarizes the situation:

The crisis over the North Korean nuclear weapons program first made the headlines in 1994, although experts had suspected that North Korea had an active nuclear program for many years. In a bid to stave off weaponization, the Clinton administration considered the possibility of war with North Korea (including nuclear strikes), but rejected that option. They instead chose to pursue the Agreed Framework, which promised energy assistance to North Korea in return for their commitment to open up their nuclear facilities to international inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. This agreement held, with no weapons activity in North Korea until President Bush came to office. The final death knell for cooperation came with the infamous 'Axis of Evil' State of the Union speech.

Click here to see the BBC timeline of the crisis since 2002

Six party talks involving the US, North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea have stalled. North Korea has probably prepared around eight crude nuclear weapons, and can build more each year. A nuclear test would have a shocking effect on the global non-proliferation regime, sealing the entry of the third new country into the nuclear club in recent years.

The U.S. and North Korea must engage in direct talks about issues of concern, as only diplomacy can solve what is now a nuclear standoff between the global superpower and one of the world's poorest nations. (Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR))

Physicians for Social Responsibility has always seen this in terms of global public health. So do we. We endorse their statement and urge everyone to ask their Senators to ratify the CTBT. As PSR points out, the CTBT will do almost nothing to hamper US freedom of action, given its current large stockpile of weapons, and it would halt the move toward development of a new generation of nuclear bombs. It is in US interests, as it is in the interest of every human being on this planet.

Immediate ratification is one way to regain some of the country's lost moral authority. Every little bit helps.


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Knocked him over with a feather... and the Chinese Ambassador when the N. Korean Ambassador three years ago told them both that N. Korea had developed weapons. This was during the six party talks that were under to prevent this. Clinton blew it and appeased them and they just used the money they werent spending on their people to redouble it and spent it on nukes.

Perceived threat or another Iran? I can say that Japan could develop a VERY workable nuke in under six months, S. Korea too. Now the Chinese are going to get edgy and they too will respond. If N. Korea tests a weapon, then we or the Chinese will test one or maybe two (or engage in a conventional attack) on those nuke facilities. Williams post about the battle groups is well taken. This would be a Navy show going into Korea for suppression and then the B1's and B2's would wade in there and whack the crap out of them. Got to get the ships back to P. Harbor and/or San Diego but by NOVEMBER we could be in a fur ball.

Unilateral talks got us into this mess. They wont get us out except to walk in and say that if they test, they are dead. Diplomacy at its finest. Kim's government would fall almost immediately after that and with the blessing of the Chinese, the Russians, S. Koreans, and Japan.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Oct 2006 #permalink

Is that our next UN ambassador talking?

No Mark. For 12 years the N. Koreans have embarked on this lets get a nuke program and everyone especially Clinton let them build it. Now Kim is about to take his toys out of the box and play with them and six nations AND the UN are telling him not to do it.

I expect that they might not like the Chinese response to this. If they test the Chinese are going to be talking out both sides of their mouths again and the US, Japan, Russia and S. Korea are going to hold them accountable. The Secretary of State that was astonished by the announcement was Colin Powell by the way. I dont think that Condi Rice will have any avenues open because of the feelings of four of the five members of the six party talks. China wouldnt want a target sitting only a few miles from some of their most populated cities. Tokyo is VERY annoyed as well.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Oct 2006 #permalink

Lets see, Saudi Arabia provided financing for Pakistans nuclear program, China provided the technical support for Pakistans nuclear program and missiles, Pakistan transfers their knowledge and nuclear technology to North Korea in return for missiles so that they could deliver their nukes further than India. China sells ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia which is rumoured to have gotten nukes from Pakistan in return for their financing. Pakistan is also said to support Irans nuclear program.

China is hardly concerned about North Korea getting nukes. Why? Lets see, lets start with all the countries who had nuclear weapons programs which started in the 1980's, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Libya and see whats happened.

India and Pakistan have already gone nuclear and been well rewarded by the US Clinton and Bush administrations with military and trade benefits since going nuclear. India in fact received assistance for their program from the Reagan administration when they allowed export of nuclear technology to them in 1983. Pakistan had no need of US support as they had China's support.

Libya could not adequately finance the program due to sanctions over the Lockerbie bombing and have thus given up the program in order to end the sanctions which crippled their economy.

Iraq also gave up their nuclear program, but the Oil for Food program kept money in Sadaams pockets so he did not humiliate himself as Kaddafi did. His reward for giving up the program but not allowing inspectors to confirm he was not working on it secretly was an invasion by the US. Saddaam unfortunately was not aware of the Cheney 1% doctrine. There was a 1% chance he had nukes, so he had to go down. Fortunately, Iraq had plenty of oil to pay for the reconstruction which North Korea does not have.

Iran and North Korea see they have 3 choices. Sell themselves out like Libya and give up the program and subject themselves to humiliating inspections, stop developing nuclear weapons but not allow inspections and get invaded like Iraq if they fall under the 1% Cheney doctrine, or develop nuclear weapons like India and Pakistan and get treated with respect and not have to worry about an invasion.

The US has shown the world we are willing to fight wars against countries whom have no nukes and dont have much of an army like Iraq and Afghanistan. Message being received is the best defence against a preventive war being waged against them by the US is having nukes.

China is well aware that a nuclear North Korea ensures the Norths survival. The last thing China wants is a unified democratic Korea. Having nukes will force the world to treat North Korea with respect and to lift sanctions and open up trade. After all, isn't this the strategy the US adapted with a nuclear communist China, and continued despite threats from the PLA that they would launch nukes at LA if we intervened in the event of a war over Taiwan.

Below is an interesting article over the link between North Korea and Pakistan

By Paul Todd (not verified) on 06 Oct 2006 #permalink

MRK: NK falling is the great nightmare of all in the region. There will be more refugees than Palestine in '48-'51. Will, not would. NK is incapable of digging its way out of its economic shambles (meaning: slaughterhouse).

By Ground Zero Homeboy (not verified) on 06 Oct 2006 #permalink

Paul.. fairly good analysis but it has a few holes but neither one of us will be right until NK pops the cap. Then the response will come. What that will be is anyones guess. Cant disagree with any of it though as it does touch in places on what the assessment was in 96 under Clinton. Tactical nukes might be used to create an advantage against the South for a takeover. As for all of the other stuff, China doesnt want another powerhouse in SE Asia, they have enough problems with Vietnam. Its like spiders. They either eat their young or they eat you. One cap going off over Beijing is the same as if we did it. The balance of power would shift.

Dunno. Unilateral talks are out and thats because of the players in the field. Unless they all agree that the US is their negotiator its going to be a very warm year down there.

I am deeply concerned about their missiles though. The range is very long. Hawaii, Japan, West Coast? Again dunno.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 06 Oct 2006 #permalink

Well the Koreans popped their cap. It was what is known as a fizzle. They got a tactical nuke sized pop when they wanted a strategic weapon. It was measured a 3.38 kilotons. More than enough to fry Tokyo,Honolulu or Seoul. The response is going to be swift now. Either dismantle the nukes or face attack. They wont screw around with them because if you have one, you can only threaten. You have two you become a superpower albeit regional. Couple it up with missiles that can hit our allies and all of a sudden everyone wants to knock the snot out of them. It doesnt escape Beijing that they are now under the nuke range of the Korean missiles. Bastard child is now coming to claim what he thinks is his.

The UN and the Security Council has only one choice. Either take them out or risk a major arms race beginning in under two months. The S. Koreans, Japanese and US will respond immediately and if they dont disassemble it, Kim Jong Il had better get his Elizabeth Taylor movie collection into a fireproof safe.

Attack time? Dark of the moon around the beginning of November. Time is short, they had better act quickly and decisively.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 09 Oct 2006 #permalink

Randy: I'm not sure what kind of attack you mean. Take them down attack, or symbolic attack (like taking out a facility with a Cruise Missile). Because Seoul is right under a whole lot of artillery and if it's a shooting war lasting more than a day, S. Korea could be in real trouble and wouldn't like this much.

And like Afghanistan and Iraq, a ground war would be a disaster. But there are maniacs on both sides, so . . .

A ground war would be disastrous for both sides and the effects of it felt for years. So would a nuke attack by Korea on any of its neighbors. Therefore, an all out attack on the Korean facilities would be in order. A Clinton type 30-40 shots of cruise missiles would do it and tamp them down for some time to come. But the Koreans are the masters of the underground facilities. Williams -60's might come into play. But no one has ever hit a nuke facility with a nuke, underground or not. Very interesting proposal. So my bet is that a sub will stand out off the coast along with 2-3 Aegis Class cruisers and destroyers and launch cruise missiles. Debate will be raging as to whether to send a message of resolve and that would be whether to use tactical warheads with the dialable yields. For us its as simple as turning the dial on a warhead to achieve full tritium use or down to a limited Hiroshima type. We know what that does.

Mind I dont advocate the use of a nuke. Its a last resort weapon as far as I am concerned but once they know that we can reach out and touch them, they might topple Kim. Start with cruise missiles, escalate only as necessary. Its still awful close to the Chinese border. Dont be surprised if they launch a ground offensive of their own.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 09 Oct 2006 #permalink

The CTBT, while a good idea for a number of reasons, will also do almost nothing to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

Do the N. Korean peasants know something we dont? The Chinese have started to deploy a full division to the border with N. Korea. Might be to stop the peasants from crossing the border, or to invade. Dunno. Short of satellites there aint much that we can hear or see there.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 10 Oct 2006 #permalink