Magazine article Insight on the News

Don't Give in to North Korea

Magazine article Insight on the News

Don't Give in to North Korea

Article excerpt

In November, President Clinton declared that "North Korea cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear bomb." In January, anonymous White House sources said the president "misspoke" What he really meant to say was, "North Korea cannot be allowed to become a nuclear power."

What this probably means is that North Korea has, in fact, developed a nuclear bomb on Clinton's watch. The administration is clearly afraid to say so and is splitting bureaucratic hairs in an attempt to obfuscate. Because the administration came into office criticizing George Bush's handling of nuclear proliferation matters, it doesn't want its own failures to come into public focus.

What does it mean if North Korea has a nuclear bomb, and what is the administration doing about it? The easy answer is that it means a lot, and the administration, in its panic, is creating even more strategic security problems for the future.

First, what would be the significance of North Korea having a nuclear weapon? Without question it raises a concern for the safety of our military forces in South Korea and our allies in Seoul. Since its creation by Stalin in 1945, the North Korean government has developed into one of the most dangerously aggressive regimes in the world. The North Korean economy is totally geared for war. According to departing Defense Secretary Les Aspin, 70 percent of North Korea's military might is within a very short distance of the South Korean border.

Further, for 40 years the United States has tried to ensure that the democratic countries of North Asia do not develop nuclear weapons. A nuclear bomb in North Korean hands would seriously jeopardize that successful policy. It raises the question for North Asian defense planners whether their countries should go nuclear, too. The rule of thumb among nuclear experts in Washington is that Japan could produce a nuclear device in 30 days if it chose to do so. Taiwan and South Korea would take a little longer, but probably less than a year.

Finally, there is the question no one wants to ask: Would the North Koreans sell bombs to the highest bidder? Libya? Syria? Iraq? The North Koreans have sold every other modern weapons system they have developed, including ballistic missiles, to Iran. …

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