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NoKo's Nuclear Blackmail

North Korea is now threatening the US that it will launch a nuclear tipped missile if we don't sit down with them at the negotiating table.

The North, meanwhile, stepped up its threats aimed at Washington, saying it could fire a nuclear-tipped missile unless the United States acts to resolve its standoff with Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported from Beijing.


Even if Pyongyang is confirmed to have nuclear weapons, experts say it's unlikely the North has a bomb design small and light enough to be mounted atop a missile. Their long-range missile capability also remains in question, after a test rocket in July apparently fizzled out shortly after takeoff.

"We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes," Yonhap quoted an unidentified North Korean official as saying. "That depends on how the U.S. will act."

The official said the nuclear test was "an expression of our intention to face the United States across the negotiating table," reported Yonhap, which didn't say how or where it contacted the official, or why no name was given.

But Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, said the nuclear test would make the possibility of direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang more difficult, Yonhap reported.

The U.N. Security Council was weighing a U.S. proposal for potentially crippling sanctions. Washington has asked the council to adopt a measure that would aim to curb the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, prohibit all trade in military and luxury goods, and crack down on illegal financial dealings.

South Korea said that it believed the North had exploded a nuclear device on Monday, but officials claimed that it might take up to two weeks to confirm whether the test was successful.

It's easy to see the danger in someone like Kim Jong-il having access to nuclear weapons. Not only could he wave them around, so to speak, in an effort to force his will on the rest of the world just as he is right now, he could sell them on the blackmarket to al Qaeda who could do a hell of a lot of damage to the American people.

Now, the question is how do we handle this situation? Once a leader, despotic or not, gets nukes, our options are immediately limited. The UN will do nothing. It's a paper tiger and everyone including Kim Jong-il knows that. Aside from war, the only reasonable option here is for China to assert pressure by threating to cut NoKo off from the oil and food it desperately needs.

Captain Ed sees war as an option that's becoming much more real:

[W]e may be left with no choices other than war and blackmail. China can't seem to keep control of its client any more, and South Korea's attempts at appeasement disappeared in a seismic boom two days ago. I would expect that the next attempt to launch a missile will get much more attention from the American military, and that may just take us into a conflict that we should have been ready to fight in 1994 -- and which Bill Clinton was prepared to fight, at least publicly, until Jimmy Carter interfered with American foreign policy and forced Clinton to back down.

Update: Mario Loyola at The Corner explains some of the reasons that KJI wants nukes:

North Korea sees an existential threat in the United States not because we called them nasty names, but because the rising tide of global free trade (which in its immediate region depends vitally on the straight-jacketing security structure of America's bilateral alliances, and which has produced the terrifyingly successful South Korea) is suffocating the regime to death. And Kim knows that when he ever falls from power he is more likely to wind up in prison than on the French Riviera like the dictators of yesteryear.


Nukes are his trump card. It will give him an eternal free hand with which to extort money from the West (much better than begging for charity, and having to accept conditions) and begin intimidating his neighbors -- chiefly Seoul -- into making important political concessions. Kim sees in this nuclear coercion both an eternal subsidy for his Stalinist system and perhaps even the reunification of the peninsula under his leadership (or some other scheme that preserves his power) which would be to fulfill the existential purpose of his regime.

Update II: James Lewis at The American Thinker informs us that KJI may already be sharing his nuke knowledge with Iran:

It's expensive and difficult to develop nuclear weapons. Iran is reportedly having trouble with its uranium refinement at Natanz. However, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard officers were seen observing Kim's recent multiple missile launch, including a botched ICBM launch aimed at Hawaii. It makes sense that the Iranians and North Koreans have been working together on missiles and nuclear weapons.


If so, Tehran's technical problems with enrichment may be solved very soon. Tehran has the oil money and the NoKos have the technology. Together, they are surely speeding things up. They are in a hurry, and the faster they move, the sooner they will have an unbeatable weapon.

Last year a leaked National Intelligence Estimate estimated that Tehran will have nukes in ten years. Israel has been more realistic, putting it at 2007-2009, with a point of no return coming in less than a year. In fact, Iran may already have smuggled enough enriched uranium from North Korea. It may already have enough material for one or two bombs. If that is the case, even an embargo on North Korean trade will not stop the sharing of technology with the fanatics of Tehran. You can teach engineering techniques over the internet. Drug routes can be used to smuggle experts, uranium, and detailed designs. We know that Kim has contacts in the Asian underworld for his forged dollars and other criminal enterprises.

James ends his post on this very ominous note:

As long as civilized nations fail to present a unified front, we can only rely on the personal courage and moral clarity of leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair. But we cannot be sure that we will always be led by men and women of their caliber: Blair is leaving office within a year, and Bush in two years.


The future of the world therefore hangs by a thread. Where are the adults?


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Comments (14)

I'm glad to see Republican'... (Below threshold)
Lee:

I'm glad to see Republican'ts are taking NoKo seriously, and not just using the situation to play politics with American voters.

heh.

How long before Monica Lewinsky is mentioned?

5--4--3--2...

Well, Lee, it looks like yo... (Below threshold)

Well, Lee, it looks like you were the first to bring Ms Lewinsky up. Congratulations; now you have no reason whatsoever to whine if this conversation disintegrates to Clinton-bashing.

Let me nip this one in the ... (Below threshold)

Let me nip this one in the bud immediately. This thread is about NoKo and nukes. Ms. Lewinsky is completely off topic, Lee.

once again America's enemie... (Below threshold)
jp:

once again America's enemies take up the Democrat talking points......"direct talks"


lets see, our insane enemies want something and the democrats will bend over backwards to give it to them

Glad to hear it Kim. It's a... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Glad to hear it Kim. It's also about politics, judging from your repeated efforts to make this issue an election issue instead of just about "NoKo and nukes".

"As long as civilized nations fail to present a unified front, we can only rely on the personal courage and moral clarity of leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair. But we cannot be sure that we will always be led by men and women of their caliber: Blair is leaving office within a year, and Bush in two years."

Bush failed to gain a unified front going into Iraq, and the actions of the United States since that time have only served to alienate and distance our allies further.

Bush's incomentence over the last 6 years have lead us to the brink of disaster AGAIN here with North Korea, and all the Republican'ts can do is whine and complain that's it's Clinton's and Carter's fault --

-- conveniently ignoring the fact that Bush has had six years in which to do nothing production and constructive regarding NoKo - and he succeeded remarkably, again.

Proliferation is inevitible... (Below threshold)

Proliferation is inevitible and has never been thwarted for long. The United States would be better off investing time and money into things like more subtle and pervasive technology for detecting radiation and a more powerful human intelligence presence around the world to hopefully fight back against these things being smuggled in. The latter is the most important because we can at least find out who smuggled the weapon in and go after their state sponsor. I doubt Iran would use nuclear terrorist proxies if their leadership knew that we would respond with a dozen nuclear bombs hitting Iran in strategic locations.

As to the lone nutjobs? Nothing has stopped them except field work. Aum Shinryoko's gas attack wasn't prevented, and neither would most acts of terrorism. By the time that "counter-terrorist" forces are reacting, it's too late.

North Korea was provided wi... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

North Korea was provided with billion of dollars, ripped from the American public, in the 90's. Plenty of pictures on the net of Kim and Madam NotAllTooBright toasting the transfer of the money. The people of NK were not fed with the money, but we are now facing a nuclear weapon bought and paid for by the Slick Willie Administration with the assistance of Dimmy Carter. They used your money, not theirs.

Slick and Algore also sold China the most advanced missile guidance system in the world for a few dollars in campaign donations.

Now we are facing a nuclear bomb built with our money and it will be delivered on a missile guided by our own guidance system. Ain't life sweet?

Sicne the poor widdle Repub... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Sicne the poor widdle Republicans are lamenting the fact that Bush and Blair now stand alone, let's take a look at why -- why don't other nations stand united with us?

Regarding the North Korea situation - here's a review from around the world.

The Financial Times (UK) says the test shows a sign of U.S. weakness.

"That five years later, North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon will be widely interpreted as a sign of the failure of the tougher approach favoured by the Bush team."

The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) says the move is a huge embarrassment for the United States

"Intent on showing it was tougher than the Clinton administration, which accepted a North Korean nuclear freeze in 1994, the Bush team's effort has been counterproductive."

The Globe and Mail (Canada)

"U.S. President George W. Bush, faced with the failure of an ongoing diplomatic effort to stare down the unpredictable North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, seemed to retreat to a new line in the sand."

AFP (France) writes

"As opposition Democrats hammered the Bush administration's North Korea policy, seeking an edge in November 7 legislative elections, senior Bush foreign policy aides sought to line up global support."

The Times of India writes "Kooky Kim gives U.S. the heebie-jeebies"

". . . "Kooky Kim," Communist North Korea's leader who gives American officials the creeps. It's hard to separate fact from fiction (or friction) in what Washington serves up about Kim Jong II."

The International Herald Tribune (France, Europe) has an analysis piece

four weeks before a critical national election, President George W. Bush and his aides never gave as much priority to countering a new era of proliferation as they did to overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

"Bush and his aides contend that Iraq was the more urgent threat, in a volatile neighborhood. But the North's reported nuclear test now raises the question of whether it is too late for the president to make good on his promise that he would never let the world's "worst dictators" obtain the world's most dangerous weapons."



and lastly (for now anyway)

from China (Xinhua)

"The Chinese Foreign Ministry [is] calling for calm responses from all parties concerned and urging them to stick to the policy of a peaceful resolution of the issue through dialogues and consultations."

Republicans have made our country the laughing stock of the world, and greatly increased the danger to Americans at home and abroad.

It's time for a change.

So let me see if I have thi... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

So let me see if I have this right: Lee's pissed because Bush did little or nothing to confront a problem that was exascerbated by the Clinton Administration's willingness to appease and placate a mad regime with money for aid that ended up being used King Jong Mentally Ill for a nuke program.

I think I have that right.

It's time for a change.<... (Below threshold)
scsiwuzzy:

It's time for a change. -Lee

Yes, Lee, clearly it is time for your nappy to be changed. It's chaffing, and the rash is making you quite whiny.

So the pot bellied madman w... (Below threshold)
John S:

So the pot bellied madman with bad hair wants to put a nuclear weapon (another dud I presume) on a missile that will explode at 5,000 feet. Maybe, he needs a demonstration of what a working nuke looks like.

USA World Police.I... (Below threshold)

USA World Police.

It ought to amaze me but it doesn't. Bush is ripped up one side and down the other for failing to play nice with others. In North Korea he's insisted that it be a joint effort. But when it comes time to lay blame... well let's blame America.

Bush was right then and still right now to insist that North Korea not be framed as a two nation issue. That is and still is as important as it ever was. We've *tried* to make sure that Iran is not framed as a two nation issue. Fact is, no one else is even a little bit willing to take responsibility. So who effing cares? If no one else cares that North Korea has nukes or Iran has nukes... why in the name of heaven should we even bother?

And *why* should we act like we're responsible?

And when we do take responsibility we're gonna get reamed for it because the only way to make another nation not do what they want to do is to MAKE them not do it. That means armies and as we all know "war never solves anything."

Bush should announce our new nuclear prolifigation policy, a nuke in every back-yard, no despot is too small, student loans available.

Great idea Synova, And We s... (Below threshold)
914:

Great idea Synova, And We should arm each and every one of them to automatically detonate within 3 seconds of a launch attempt.

I love it.

Hut-o looks like old "pucke... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Hut-o looks like old "pucker puss" (lee lee) has come down with a bad case of "linkitis". You reckon he is hanging around "mun-go" (linkman) to much?




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