Korea's Nuclear Tripwire

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Korea's Nuclear Tripwire


Byline: Richard Halloran, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It is increasingly apparent North Korea does not intend to give up its aspirations for nuclear arms regardless of concessions by the United States, South Korea and Japan. Many U.S. intelligence analysts concur in this conclusion.

When this realization sinks in, policymakers in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo will need to forge new foreign policies and security postures to cope with a nuclear-armed North Korea. Even more, China will have to exert any influence it can over its roguish ally in Pyongyang.

For weeks, the North Koreans have grasped every opportunity imaginable to assert they will not return to the six-party negotiations in Beijing led by China and including, besides North Korea, the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Among its latest pronouncements, a spokesman for Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry blamed the "hostile policy" of the United States for a stalemate in negotiations. He said North Korea - the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) - "felt no need to explain what it [hostile policy] meant."

A diplomat in North Korea's mission at the United Nations contended the U.S. was scheming to overthrow his government. "We cannot talk with the United States," Han Song-ryol said, "whether it is in the six-nation talks or a bilateral dialogue."

Nor does it matter who wins the American election in November - President Bush, the Republican who continues to advocating multinational talks with North Korea, or Sen. John Kerry, the Democrat who argues the United States should negotiate with North Korea bilaterally.

As Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency says: "The DPRK does not care who becomes president in the U.S."

Living with a nuclear-armed North Korea will have immediate, midterm and long-range consequences.

In the immediate future, the U.S. will still be capable of massive retaliation if North Korea launches a nuclear or conventional attack against U.S. forces in Asia or its allies in South Korea or Japan. In that case, U.S. doctrine under Republican or Democratic administrations has long called explicitly for destruction of the North Korean regime.

Politically, North Korea will lose the bargaining leverage its nuclear programs have provided when negotiations end. Pyongyang will not get the diplomatic recognition from the U. …

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